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Avian Flu Virus Detected in More Michigan Dairy Herds and on Another Large Layer Farm

By Lisa Schnirring 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) recently reported detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in dairy herds in three more counties, including Ionia, where the virus struck for a second time at a massive layer chicken facility. 

In other avian flu developments, Minnesota and New Mexico reported their first outbreaks in commercial poultry operations for 2024.

Michigan grapples with virus on 2 animal fronts

Michigan reported its first outbreak in dairy cows on March 29, which affected a herd in Montcalm County in the west central part of the state that had recently received cows from an affected facility in Texas.

In an April 12 statement, MDARD said the three additional herds in Michigan are located in three counties: Ionia, Isabella, and Ottawa. Ionia and Isabella counties border Montcalm County. Ottawa County is located on the western border of Michigan's lower peninsula.

Officials didn't specify the suspected source of the virus in the state's three latest detections.

"What is happening with HPAI in Michigan mirrors what is happening in states across the country. This virus does not stop at county or state lines, which is why we must all be on high alert," said Tim Boring, PhD, MDARD's director. "This news is unfortunate and upsetting for our poultry and dairy farming families and communities."

He said experts across the nation continue to assess the situation and are providing insights into the impact of HPAI on affected livestock.

A day before the latest announcement, MDARD strongly urged producers to tighten all biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. "This is a virus that can easily be moved unknowingly on everything from farm equipment to shoes to delivery or service vehicles and the list goes on," Boring said.

Earlier this month, the virus struck a large layer facility in Ionia County that housed more than 1.9 million birds, marking Michigan's fourth detection in commercial poultry since 2022.

The latest updates from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) notes a second outbreak in Ionia County poultry, this time at a commercial table egg processor that has more than 2.1 million birds.

More poultry outbreaks in 3 states

APHIS also reported the first outbreaks in commercial poultry this year for Minnesota and New Mexico. Minnesota's outbreak occurred at a turkey farm housing more than 68,000 birds in Meeker County. In New Mexico, the virus was detected at a commercial hatchery in Roosevelt County that is home to 61,500 birds.

Elsewhere, the virus struck another poultry operation in Kansas, this time in Grant County at a location that has 17,700 birds, according to APHIS. Earlier this year, the virus hit a layer farm and multiple gamebird producers.

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