Avian Influenza has spread to mid-Michigan cattle.

The highly contagious virus was detected in dairy herds in both Gratiot and Isabella counties, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). According to the science publication Nature, most cows don’t develop severe symptoms or die from the virus. The concern comes as more and more mammals become infected with the virus, the ability of it mutating and jumping to humans becomes greater. More than 90 million domestic birds have been affected since January 2022, and the virus has spread to skunks, bears, cougars and sea lions. Currently, the risk to humans remains low.

MDARD has issued biosecurity orders as the best tool to prevent the spread of the virus, requiring all dairy operations in the state to adopt enhanced biosecurity measures. MDARD has also issued additional guidance and steps to stop the virus’ spread.

In addition to these requirements, following a few key steps can also be fundamental to protecting the health and vitality of Michigan’s dairy cattle:

  • Delay or stop incoming or returning animals from herds with unknown or suspect health status.
  • Isolate all animals that are new or returning to your farm.
  • Monitor the health of your animals daily.
  • Contact your veterinarian if there are ever any animal health-related concerns or if you would like to develop a secure food supply plan.
  • Sick animals should have dedicated equipment and be cared for after tending to healthy animals first.
  • Clothing, footwear, and equipment worn/used around sick animals should not be worn/used around other animals until they are cleaned and disinfected. Use an EPA-registered disinfectant effective against avian influenza.
  • Do not share tools, equipment, trailers, etc. with other farms.
  • Clean and disinfect the interiors of trailers used to haul animals from other operations.
  • Limit non-essential visitors to your farm.
  • If individuals have recently been on a poultry farm, they should not visit a dairy operation, and vice versa.
  • Require or provide clean clothing and footwear to those entering your farm.
  • Use hand-washing stations and provide gloves to those working on your farm.

MDARD is currently working with the affected farms and verinarians to monitor the animals health.