Michigan Reports New Bird Flu Strain As States Battle Outbreak

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The state of Michigan is the latest to deal with an outbreak of bird flu. It has led to issues and worried wildlife officials. There have been outbreaks in wild bird populations as well as commercial chicken flocks. Small, backyard flocks have had cases as well. In the eastern half of the country, it seems like there isn’t any state that hasn’t had a case or at least had one in a neighboring state.

In Michigan, six Canadian geese, two swans, and two snowy owls have tested positive. The first detection was in a swan that wildlife officials noticed in Monroe County. Now that those positive tests have been found in the lower part of Michigan, the upper peninsula is bracing for their first cases.

“Often [the pathogen] will follow these migratory bird pathways. All along the Atlantic flyway, the Mississippi flyway, which we are a part of, and the Central flyway as well,” Megan Moriarty said. Moriarty is the Michigan DNR Wildlife Disease Specialist.

Right now, the U.P. is already seeing ramifications regarding the flu. Michelle Anderson, the director at Keweenaw Wild Bird Rec has stopped accepting sick birds. It isn’t the most ideal situation, but to prevent the spread of the flu in other populations, it is necessary. In Iowa, where the bird flu ran rampant, they have had to cull millions of chickens already.

According to Moriarty, consumers in Michigan shouldn’t expect this to cause issues at the grocery store.

“We have excellent bio-security for food that enters the food chain in the United States. Generally, eggs and meat are considered safe. People do not need to worry about that, there are a lot of safeguards in place to protect our food chain.”

As usual, Moriarty says to wash your hands and to cook meat and eggs thoroughly to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Michigan Braces for Bird Flu Issues and Poultry Prices Rise

With the bird flu expanding to Michigan, it is a reminder that prices at the store continue to rise. Meats such as chicken, beef, and pork are all on the rise. Already, chicken prices have gone up 70% year-over-year to start 2022. I’ll tell you now Outsiders, I’ve never been happier to have chickens in the backyard and fresh eggs every day.

While it is nice to have those resources, backyard owners like me are worried about our birds. The flu keeps spreading from state to state and with wild migratory birds returning for the spring, it’s a nerve-wracking time. However, there are things that owners can do. Like moving birds inside as much as possible. Also, if you have a sick or dead bird you should not approach it and call local officials.

So, keep an eye out on your birds. And, if you see a sick or dead wild bird, make sure to report it to the right authorities.