LANSING, Mich. (AP/CBS DETROIT) — A Michigan wildlife expert says removing outdoor bird feeders could help reduce the spread of a bird flu.

Avian influenza has been confirmed in at least five counties: Kalamazoo, Livingston, Macomb, Menominee and Washtenaw, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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It can infect a variety of birds, including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, wild birds and domestic birds.

The risk for people is considered to be low.

“If you’re concerned about this virus and want to act from a place of abundant caution, removing your bird feeders for now makes sense but it isn’t yet a critical step,” said Megan Moriarty, a state wildlife veterinarian.

“With warmer springtime weather on the way, too, birds will have more natural food sources readily available to them, so chances are many people will be taking down feeders in a few weeks anyway,” Moriarty said Wednesday.

If people choose to continue using their bird feeders, please keep this guidance in mind:

  • Thoroughly clean bird feeders with a diluted bleach solution (and rinse well) once per week. Regularly cleaning helps protect birds against other infections, including salmonella.
  • Clean up birdseed that has fallen below the feeders to discourage large numbers of birds and other wildlife from congregating in a concentrated area.
  • Don’t feed wild birds, especially waterfowl, near domestic flocks.
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The flu was discovered in domestic parrots in Washtenaw County, the latest detection reported this week by the DNR. Michigan officials reported that the parrots had succumbed to the virus.

It was first detected in February in Kalamazoo County.

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

If avian influenza is suspected, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development 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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