(CBS DETROIT) — Poultry owners are urged to protect their birds after highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was detected in Livingston and Washtenaw counties.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says following an investigation, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory detected HPAI in a non-commercial backyard poultry flock in Livingston County.

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The premises there is currently under quarantine, and the birds were depopulated to prevent further spread. Officials say the flock contained about 20 birds of multiple species. MDARD says there are no anticipated disruptions to supply chains and no threat to public health or food safety.

This comes one day after the virus was confirmed in Washtenaw County by the county health department. No human illness was identified in that area and all individuals possibly exposed to HPAI are being contacted.

“As we continue to respond to HPAI in Michigan, we are strongly encouraging all flock owners to take steps to better protect their poultry and help reduce the spread of this disease. Now is the time for action,” State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said in a statement. “Taking every step possible to keep wild birds and the germs they could be carrying away from domestic birds will help to limit the spread and impact of this virus, keeping Michigan’s flocks healthy.”

HPAI is a contagious virus that can spread from flock to flock, including wild birds, through contact of infected poultry, equipment and clothing and shoes of caretakers.

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Poultry owners are advised to watch for unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption or an increase in sick birds.

Whether it’s a few backyard birds or a large commercial flock, following a few key steps can protect the health and vitality of Michigan’s domestic birds:

  • Prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors or ensuring their outdoor area is fully enclosed.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling birds as well as when moving between different coops.
  • Disinfecting boots and other gear when moving between coops.
  • Do not share 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.
  • Keep poultry feed secure to ensure there is no contact between the feed/feed ingredients and wild birds or rodents.

Washtenaw County residents who notice the death of three or more free-ranging birds should report to the Department of Natural Resources through the Eyes in the Field app or by calling 517-336-5030.

If avian influenza is suspected, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).

For more information, go to Michigan.gov/BirdFlu, Michigan.gov/AvianInfluenza or Michigan.gov/AvianDiseases.

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