Highly pathogenic Avian influenza detected in two more Michigan counties

LANSING — As highly pathogenic Avian influenza (HPAI) has spread to more than 30 states this spring, it has also been detected in two more Michigan counties, according to statements from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

On Friday, MDARD reported that the virus was detected in a non-commercial backyard poultry flock from Livingston County. This most recent finding of HPAI emphasizes the ongoing high risk for the disease in Michigan, and poultry owners need to implement every strategy necessary to protect their flocks, MDARD stated.

The most recent incident, announced by MDARD in a Monday release, was the detection of HPAI in domestic parrots in Washtenaw County. Following an investigation by MDARD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories, the virus was found in parrots at a residential location. The parrots at the residence had succumbed to the virus, and MDARD is working with the birds’ owners to finalize a flock plan, preventing further disease spread.

Pet birds who live in a family home are unlikely to have any contact with wild birds, MDARD stated. Because the birds typically remain indoors, their only contact with contaminated material could be indirectly through exposed food, cage furniture, or an owner’s clothing.

Michigan residents with pet birds, the statement continued, should not store food or water bowls where wild birds roost or fly, bird owners should disinfect/change shoes, clothing, etc. if they have been worn off the property.

“It’s important to recognize it’s very difficult for pet birds to catch avian influenza if the proper precautions are taken to stop the virus,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “For example, put in safeguards to not introduce any material, food, or clothing that wild birds may have contaminated. No matter what bird species or how many birds one owns–now is the time to protect them. Bird owners need to take every strategy to protect their flocks and reduce the spread of HPAI within our state. MDARD continues to act swiftly to reduce the spread and respond to the ongoing presence of HPAI in Michigan.”

On Friday, NBC News reported the highly contagious bird flue has now spread across more than 30 states. Last week alone, the bird virus killed more than 200 wild birds at a lake in Illinois, while at least three bald eagles in Georgia died as a result of the influenza.

An April 18 report by Andrew Marquart for Fortune stated:

“A massive avian flu outbreak has spread through the U.S. poultry population since January. Over the past few months, nearly 27 million chickens and turkeys have been affected by the influenza, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness, which leads to respiratory issues, swelling, and rapid death in poultry, has been reported in more than 30 states, the USDA says.”

The HPAI virus has already been impacting egg and poultry prices, which are predicted to continue to rise.

Last month, the USDA stated that egg prices increased by 2.2% in February 2022. The continuing outbreak of HPAI could contribute to poultry and egg price increases through reduced supply or decrease prices through lowered international demand for U.S. poultry products or eggs. Poultry prices are now predicted to increase between 6.0 and 7.0% and egg prices are predicted to increase between 2.5 and 3.5%.

Avian flu, however, is not the only factor for rising poultry and egg prices, nor are they only products experiencing price increases. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index Summary for March 2022, reported that the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 1.0% in March, while the index for cereals and bakery products rose 1.5% and the index for nonalcoholic beverages increased 1.2% over the month. The dairy and related products index also increased 1.2% in March.

The food at home index rose 10.0% over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 1981. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 13.7% over the last year as the index for beef rose 16.0 %.The other major grocery store food group indexes also rose over the past year, with increases ranging from 7.0 % (dairy and related products) to 10.3% (other food at home).

Part of the reason for price jumps at the store according to experts, is the continued rising price of energy. The BLS report for March reported that the energy index rose 32.0% over the past 12 months with all major energy component indexes increasing. The index for gasoline rose 48.0% over the last year and the index for natural gas rose 21.6%. The index for electricity rose 11.1% for the 12 months ending March.

Prices of produce like potatoes and celery are likely to increase because of higher freight costs, Fortune reported on Dec. 29, 2021, while alcoholic beverages like beer, liquor, and wine will increase in price because of labor shortages and delays on imported goods.


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