Cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, have been confirmed in Antrim and Otsego counties. No human illness has been associated with this detection.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is sharing this information to recommend precautions for people who own or work with birds, including poultry, or hunt wild birds. The bird flu or HPAI in birds is not a food safety concern if poultry and eggs are handled and cooked properly.
Following an investigation by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the health department was notified that HPAI was detected in a hooded merganser in Antrim County and a barred owl in Otsego County. MDARD is working with poultry owners to mitigate the spread and provide outreach and support.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined these HPAI detections do not present a major, immediate public health concern. However, recently in Colorado, one person tested positive for bird flu after working to depopulate poultry infected with HPAI. This highlights the fact that people who have job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds are at higher risk of infection and should take appropriate precautions outlined by the CDC.
“It is important that individuals working closely with and handling birds, whether infected or healthy, be cautious and maintain an awareness of the situation that has been evolving around the state,” said Dr. Josh Meyerson, medical director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, in a statement. “Avian flu can spread when infected birds are not properly handled, and poultry owners or caretakers have not followed the necessary protocols.”
HPAI is a form of influenza that is very contagious among birds and can 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.
Poultry owners and caretakers are encouraged to watch for signs of avian influenza in their flocks. This includes unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption, or an increase in sick birds. If avian influenza is suspected, they are urged to contact MDARD immediately at (800) 292-3939 (daytime) or (517) 373-0440 (after hours).
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Health department issues warning after bird flu found in Antrim, Otsego counties