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State orders increased bird flu biosecurity measures for poultry, dairy cattle facilities

FILE - Dairy cattle feed at a farm on March 31, 2017, near Vado, N.M.  (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)
Rodrigo Abd/AP
State orders facilities to ramp up biosecurity procedures, after Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) recently infected dairy cattle in four Michigan counties. It has also infected poultry in 23 Michigan counties since the outbreak began in February, 2022.

Michigan is ordering poultry and dairy cattle facilities to ramp up biosecurity due to a bird flu outbreak.

That's after the bird flu was detected in dairy cattle in four counties last month. Bird flu has infected poultry in 23 Michigan counties since the outbreak began in February 2022.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A (H5N1), a strain of what is often referred to as bird flu, is responsible for a worldwide outbreak in poultry and wild birds. The current outbreak is the worst in United States history: More than 60 million birds have either died as a result of bird flu virus infection or have been culled due to exposure to infected birds, according to the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training & Education Center.

Among other steps in the state's order, the facilities must appoint a biosecurity manager, limit access points, keep a log of all visitors, and have disinfection procedures for vehicles and people. There are also new restrictions on exhibitions of lactating cattle and poultry.

Tim Boring, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development director, said the order is among the strictest in the nation.

"We've got a high degree of confidence that these are reasonable safety measures in place on farms [and] that farms are going to be able to implement them here quickly, so we can continue to mitigate the spread of the virus," he said.

Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan's chief medical executive, said the bird flu is extremely rare in humans — only one U.S. case this year has been confirmed — but people should avoid raw, unpasteurized milk out of an abundance of caution.

"Pasteurization kills not only viruses like influenza but also other harmful pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and listeria," she said.

The order goes into effect May 8. More information on the outbreak in Michigan can be found here.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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