State Agriculture Department lifts ban on waterfowl and poultry shows

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As of June 11, 2022, the statewide shutdown of poultry and waterfowl shows put in place by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell , was lifted. The shutdown was implemented as a precautionary measure to further protect against the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), helping to keep Michigan’s domestic poultry flocks safe and healthy.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in a variety of ways from flock to flock, including through wild birds, contact with infected poultry, equipment, and on the clothing and footwear of healers.

On May 10, 2022, poultry and waterfowl shows in Michigan were halted until the state went 30 days with no new HPAI detections in domestic poultry. Although MDARD announced the detection of HPAI in a commercial flock the following day, there were no further cases of the disease in Michigan domestic birds.

“Even if the state was able to reach this incredibly important benchmark, that doesn’t mean the virus has left Michigan,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “HPAI continues to be detected in wild birds statewide, which is not unexpected as the virus is known to be carried by wild birds. Given that the virus is still present in the environment, it is still crucial that owners and keepers of domestic birds take all possible measures to protect their flocks.

Although the shutdown has been lifted, MDARD continues to vigilantly monitor national HPAI trends and respond quickly to reports of sick or dead domestic birds in Michigan. If there are subsequent detections of the virus in domestic herds in the state, the situation will be carefully assessed and evaluated by MDARD to determine if another shutdown is warranted to mitigate the spread of HPAI.

More information about lifting the shutdown can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions available at michigan.gov/birdflu.

While being able to lift the shutdown is an encouraging step forward, continued preventative measures to keep wild birds and their germs away from domestic flocks are needed to maintain this positive momentum.

Whether it’s a few backyard birds or a large commercial flock, following a few key steps is fundamental to protecting the health and vitality of Michigan domestic birds:

  • Prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling birds and when moving between different barns.
  • Disinfect boots and other equipment when moving between barns.
  • Do not share equipment or other supplies between co-ops or other farms.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and other supplies between uses. If it cannot be disinfected, throw it away.
  • Use of well or municipal water as drinking water for birds.
  • Store poultry feed in a safe place to ensure that there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the public health risk associated with these bird flu detections remains low. No HPAI-infected birds or bird products will enter the commercial food chain. As a reminder, people are encouraged to handle and cook all poultry and eggs properly.

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