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Highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in commercial poultry operation in Muskegon Co.

Officials say this outbreak does not pose a food safety risk. Around 35,000 turkeys had to be euthanized to contain the virus' spread.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in a Muskegon County poultry facility, according to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) officials.

This is the first detection of HPAI in a commercial poultry operation in Michigan.

HPAI is highly contagious, and while it does not present a food safety risk, the virus is serious for poultry. HPAI is easily spread across flocks and to other flocks through wild birds and contact with infected poultry, equipment and clothing worn by caretakers.

The Muskegon County operation is currently under quarantine to avoid spreading the virus to other flocks.

Around 35,000 turkeys had to be euthanized or 'depopulated' from the facility in an effort to contain it, an MDARD spokesperson told 13 ON YOUR SIDE Wednesday.

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MDARD said it was working to prevent and respond to outbreaks across the state.

“Before Michigan’s first detection of HPAI in backyard poultry in late February, MDARD has been preparing for all types of outbreak scenarios, including within a commercial setting, allowing the department to take swift action in partnership with the producer. The department has already identified a control area and surveillance zone to monitor for and prevent further spread of the virus,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “We will continue to ask every poultry owner, whether a backyard owner or commercial grower, to take preventative actions to help stop the spread of HPAI. It’s a team effort to defend the flocks in Michigan.”

There is a low public health risk associated with HPAI. Officials say any birds found infected with the virus will not be a part of the commercial food chain. Consumers are encouraged to handle all poultry products, including eggs, carefully and safely.

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“While human health risk is low regarding HPAI, Michigan’s 45 local health departments are working in conjunction with our state partners to monitor those at higher risk for exposure and help protect overall public health,” said Norm Hess, Executive Director, Michigan Association for Local Public Health. 

MDARD is continuing to respond to HPAI outbreaks and monitor the situation. For more information, click here.

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