There has been an increase in cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza since the end of last year throughout the U.S., and Michigan officials are asking domestic bird owners throughout the state to help prevent the spread of the virus. Cases of the H-5 bird flu have been found in Missouri, Arkansas, and Minnesota, and can spread from waterfowl to domestic poultry such as chickens and turkeys. While there have not been any cases of the virus reported in Michigan yet, state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development spokesperson Jennifer Houlton says bird-owners should still take steps to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Keep your distance. Restrict access to your property or keep your birds away from other birds. Keep your poultry away from open ponds and waterways that might be visited by migrating waterfowl.”
Holton says waterfowl can carry the disease without ever appearing to be ill. Symptoms of the virus in poultry include a significant drop in egg production; swelling of the head, comb, or legs; and sneezing and coughing. The Centers for Disease Control says this strain of bird flu poses little risk to humans.