Michigan's Bird Flu (H5N1) Outbreak Linked to Texas Dairy Cows, Affecting Poultry and Cattle Operations

By Madz Dizon

Jun 24, 2024 09:28 AM EDT

Michigan's Bird Flu (H5N1) Outbreak Linked to Texas Dairy Cows, Affecting Poultry and Cattle Operations
In western Wisconsin, where family-run dairy farms dot the rolling green hills and eagle-watchers peer into the sparkling marshland, signs for Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand directly across each other on neighbors' yards.
(Photo : KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

According to experts from the US Department of Agriculture, the spread of the H5N1 virus in Michigan has been traced back to a single herd of dairy cattle. 

Imported Cows Trigger Viral Outbreak Among Michigan Poultry Farmers

It was discovered that these cows had been unknowingly introduced in the spring after being imported from a Texas dairy operation where they had been infected. After that, poultry farmers in the state became widely affected by the viral sensation.

The source of the virus in the Texan dairy cow remains a mystery, with speculation suggesting that it may have been transmitted by deceased waterfowl found on the property.

According to a recent report released by the USDA on June 9, localized poultry operations in Michigan were affected by the spread of the virus from the barnyard. In Newaygo County, there have been recent detections of H5N1 in poultry. 

According to The Blade, Ottawa, Ionia, and Gratiot counties have reported cases of both poultry as well as cattle detections. According to the latest data issued by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, seven other countries in central and western Michigan have experienced outbreaks of H5N1 in cattle exclusively. The data was last updated on May 24.

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USDA Reports Bird Flu Hits 25 Dairy Herds, 7 Million Birds in Michigan

The US Department of Agriculture stated 25 dairy herds and almost seven million birds in the state have been affected by bird flu since January. 

Furthermore, it was discovered that two individuals working on a dairy farm in Michigan contracted the virus after coming into contact with cows that were infected.

An outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus was first detected in Texas earlier this year. Based on a recent analysis conducted by the USDA, it has been found that dairy cattle from a herd in Texas were transported to Michigan and arrived in the state on March 8.

A potential link has been discovered by the USDA's investigation, connecting the affected dairy herds and poultry flock, WDET reported.

 It appears that farmworkers who work at multiple impacted facilities together with sharing housing with other workers could be a common factor.

According to the report, it was discovered that a majority of dairy sites impacted by the issue do not clean shared vehicles before using them to transport livestock. 

Additionally, the report highlighted the fact that many dairy farms receive frequent visitors, which could potentially contribute to the spread of transmission.

However, there is still uncertainty regarding the precise transmission of the virus from farmworkers to animals.

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