MDARD encourages continued biosecurity with spring sales of baby poultry | News, Sports, Jobs

Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Bickel walks through a shoe disinfectant as he enters a building at the Blank Park Zoo, Tuesday, April 5, in Des Moines, Iowa. Zoos across North America are moving their birds indoors and away from people and wildlife as they try to protect them from the highly contagious and potentially deadly avian influenza.

HOUGHTON — As highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continues to be a growing issue across the nation, a Tuesday release from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) reported that following an investigation, the US Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the presence of HPAI (commonly known as avian flu) in a non-commercial backyard flock from Menominee County.

This is the third detection in domestic birds in the state, the release stated, and the first in the Upper Peninsula. According to a Wednesday update by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Menominee County report related to a “backyard mixed species (non-poultry)” flock numbering 62 birds.

With more and more residents of Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga and Ontonagon counties raising and keeping backyard flocks, it is important they are aware of HPAI, even though it has not been detected in any of these counties.

On March 11, MDARD released a statement that with the sale of baby poultry (chicks, ducklings, etc.) this spring season, they are reminding people purchasing and caring for these birds that following good biosecurity measures helps keep both their birds and themselves healthy .

Biosecurity refers to a series of actions people can and should take to make sure harmful germs are not being transferred from them to their birds or from their birds to themselves, the release states.

Practicing strict biosecurity is essential to ensure viruses, such HPAI, are not being passed directly or indirectly to baby poultry.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. Domestic birds are very susceptible to HPAI, causing high death loss in flocks. These losses can lead to significant economic impacts.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

However, the situation is different for another common disease-causing germ also linked to live poultry, Salmonella. Salmonella, MDARD stated, is a bacteria found in the droppings of poultry, which can cause illness in people.

In 2021, the CDC reported outbreaks of Salmonella linked to backyard poultry, involving 1,135 people across 48 states. Even if birds look healthy and clean, they can still be carrying the Salmonella bacteria; and measures need to be taken to prevent illness.

No matter the type of germ, species of poultry, or size of flock, following these biosecurity measures are fundamental to protecting your health and the health of your flock:

– Preventing contact between domestic poultry and wild birds by bringing poultry indoors to a barn/coop or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.

– Washing your hands before and after handling birds and/or their eggs as well as when moving between different coops.

– Disinfecting boots and other gear when moving between coops.

– Not sharing equipment or other supplies between coops or other farms.

– Cleaning and disinfecting equipment and other supplies between uses. If it cannot be disinfected, discard it.

– Using well or municipal water as drinking water for birds.

– Keeping poultry feed secure so there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

– Not touching birds to your face.

– Keeping poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.

– Monitoring flock for unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption, or an increase in sick birds.

If avian influenza is suspected, contact MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).

It is also recommended to remain outdoors when cleaning any equipment associated with raising or caring for poultry, such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials, MDARD. Then, store the cleaned equipment in an area where it cannot be accessed by wild birds or rodents before its next use.

“As a part of your routine duties,” MDARD suggests, “You may have to handle birds that could potentially have high path avian influenza. You should take extra precautions; and when you respond, the following items should be with you:”

Coveralls.

Goggles or eye protection.

– Shoe covers or boots that can be disinfected.

Gloves – latex, nitrile or rubber.

– If possible, a respirator (preferably a NIOSH N95 respirator/mask).

The USDA’s Wed. update shows that Minnesota’s commercial turkey flocks are currently being hit hard. In Swift County, for example, the virus was confirmed on Tues. in a commercial turkey flock numbering 145,000 birds, while on the same day, the virus was also confirmed in a flock of commercial turkeys numbering 45,000. At the same time, a Morrison County commercial operation of commercial layer chickens numbering 214,277 birds experienced a confirmation of the virus, as did another Morrison County operation with 43,285 broiler chickens.

The virus was confirmed in Wisconsin’s Barron County on Tuesday, in a commercial turkey flock numbering 52,000 birds.

More information on avian influenza and how to protect flocks through biosecurity measures can be found on the US Department of Agriculture’s website. Also, more information on Salmonella and backyard flocks is available on the CDC’s website.

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