Vigilance Against Disease Needed with Spring Poultry Sales
LANSING, MI – With the sale of baby poultry (chicks, ducklings, etc.) this spring, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding Michiganders who purchase and care for these birds to take preventative measures so both their birds and they themselves are protected from diseases like Salmonella.
These preventative measures include any action people can take to make sure harmful germs are not being transferred from them to their birds or from their birds to themselves.
“The best way to keep domestic birds healthy is prevention,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “Simple steps such as washing your hands before and after caring for birds, wearing boot covers or shoes dedicated to a coop, and having no outside visitors to your flock can help ensure birds are not being exposed to germs that could cause serious illness, like highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Making these actions routine is key to preventing disease and keeping Michigan’s flocks healthy.”
HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be 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. In 2022, Michigan had 22 confirmed cases of the disease in domestic flocks of various sizes; and this year, two more cases have already been detected—one in a backyard flock and one in a hunting preserve.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the public health risk associated with HPAI remains low. In addition, no birds or bird products infected with this disease will enter the commercial food chain.
Another disease-causing germ linked to live poultry is Salmonella, a bacteria found in the droppings of poultry, which can cause illness in people.
In 2022, the CDC reported numerous cases of Salmonella that were linked to backyard poultry, involving 1,230 people across 49 states. Even if birds look healthy and clean, they can still be carrying the Salmonella bacteria; and measures need to be taken to prevent illness.
No matter the type of germ, species of poultry, or size of flock, following these preventative measures are fundamental to protecting your health and the health of your flock:
Preventing contact between domestic poultry and wild birds by bringing poultry indoors to a barn/coop or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.
Washing your hands before and after handling birds and/or their eggs as well as when moving between different coops.
Disinfecting boots and other gear when moving between coops.
Not sharing equipment or other supplies between coops or other farms.
Cleaning and disinfecting equipment and other supplies between uses. If it cannot be disinfected, discard it.
Using well or municipal water as drinking water for birds.
Keeping poultry feed secure so there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.
Not touching birds to your face.
Keeping poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
Handling and cooking all eggs and poultry properly.
Monitoring a flock for multiple sudden deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption, diarrhea, sneezing/coughing, or an increase in sick birds.
If avian influenza is suspected in domestic birds, contact MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).
It is also recommended to remain outdoors when cleaning any equipment associated with raising or caring for poultry, such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials. Then, store the cleaned equipment in an area where it cannot be accessed by wild birds or rodents before its next use.
More information on avian influenza and how to protect flocks through preventative measures can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. Also, more information on Salmonella and backyard flocks is available on the CDC’s website.