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EAST LANSING, MI -- The H5N2 strain of avian influenza has been confirmed in several cases across the United States. Minnesota, Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota are among the states with confirmed cases in commercial flocks with new confirmations coming regularly.

This same virus has caused outbreaks in backyard flocks in Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. It appears that the virus is being spread from wild waterfowl along the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi migratory bird flyways.

Michigan will soon have birds migrating north along the Mississippi flyway. The virus can infect wild and domestic birds and poultry.

There has been no human illness associated with these outbreaks and the risk to human health is low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Poultry products including eggs are not affected by the virus. It is recommended byMichigan State University Extension and the USDA to properly cook all poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has created useful biosecurity resources for poultry and bird owners.

Restrict access of your birds so that they do not come in contact with bodies of water that wild birds may access. Segregate new birds that you bring into your flock for at least 30 days. Sharing of equipment between neighbors is discouraged. If equipment is shared, disinfect it before and after use.

Biosecurity actions are needed by caretakers as well. This includes not interacting with poultry or birds outside of your own.

If you come in contact with other birds, change your clothes and disinfect your boots/shoes. Some of the commercial poultry infections were thought to be caused by people not changing their footwear before entering barns.

If your poultry or birds appear sick, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939 or on the after-hours emergency number at 517-373-0440. If you find dead wild birds, contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at 800-292-7800.

According to the state veterinarian, Dr. James Averill, "signs of avian influenza may include: lack of appetite and energy; significant drop in egg production; difficulty walking, swollen, head, combs, wattles or legs; nasal discharge; sneezing, coughing; bloody diarrhea, or sudden death."

To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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