WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) — Highly pathogenic avian influenza, a strain of bird flu, has been found in domestic parrots in Michigan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories made this discovery at a residence in Washtenaw County.

This discovery came after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) led an investigation.

The parrots at the residence died to the virus. MDARD is actively working with the birds’ owners to come up with a flock plan to prevent any further spread of the disease.

According to the MDARD, usually pet birds who live in a family home don’t have any contact with wild birds.

Researchers say birds come in contact with contaminated material indirectly through exposed food, cage furniture, or an owner’s clothing.

MDARD is advising that Michiganders with pet birds should not store food or water bowls in wild bird’s reach and to disinfect or change shoes, clothing, or other items if they have been worn off their 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. 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.”  

State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland

Officials say HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in various ways from flock to flock.

Ways HPAI can spread from flock to flock:

  • Through wild birds
  • Through contact with infected poultry
  • By equipment
  • Clothing and shoes of caretakers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern.

Currently, there has been no human cases of these avian influenza viruses found in the U.S.

MDARD Tips to 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.

Signs of the avian influenza include: unusual deaths, a drop in egg production, a significant decrease in water consumption, or an increase in sick birds.

If avian influenza is detected, officials say to call the MDARD immediately at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).