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Michigan Allocates Emergency Funds to Support Dairy Farmers Amid Avian Flu Outbreak

USA 26.06.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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Michigan is providing crucial financial assistance to dairy farmers affected by avian influenza (HPAI), with a significant portion of the nation’s H5N1-infected dairy farms located within the state. Each of the 20 identified HPAI-infected farms will receive $28,000 for comprehensive epidemiological investigations and real-time longitudinal studies, as announced by Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Tim Boring.
Michigan Allocates Emergency Funds to Support Dairy Farmers Amid Avian Flu Outbreak
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Since March 29, 2024, Michigan has confirmed HPAI in 24 dairy operations, presenting unprecedented challenges for the state's dairy farmers. The emergency response funding aims to advance research on the disease and support farm recovery efforts.

Tim Boring emphasized the state's one-health approach, collaborating with federal, state, and local partners to address animal and public health concerns swiftly. Three USDA emergency management teams are on the ground, assisting the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) in responding to all affected poultry facilities statewide. An additional USDA epidemiological team is aiding in tracing and testing within dairy herds to provide real-time information.

"Our HPAI-impacted farms have been incredibly cooperative in Michigan’s one-health approach to combat this disease,” Boring stated.

The history of HPAI in Michigan is as follows:

Feb. 22, 2022: HPAI was first confirmed in a backyard poultry flock in Kalamazoo County.

2022: A total of 21 poultry flocks were depopulated due to the virus.

2023: Seven poultry flocks were depopulated.

March 29, 2024: MDARD confirmed HPAI in a large Montcalm County commercial dairy operation with more than 500 cows, where approximately 10% tested positive for the virus. This operation had received asymptomatic animals from an HPAI-positive Texas herd.

April 1 to present: A total of 23 Michigan dairy operations and eight poultry facilities have tested positive for HPAI.

Ionia County has been particularly affected, with five dairy operations, three large commercial hen-laying operations, and one backyard flock testing positive in 2024. Gratiot and Clinton counties have also reported multiple dairy and poultry operations testing positive.

A quarter of the nation’s H5N1-infected dairy farms are in Michigan. While HPAI is almost never fatal in dairy cows, which may show symptoms such as fever, stiff manure, abnormal milk, and a drop in production, the infected animals are isolated, and their milk is diverted from the supply chain.

There is concern about the virus mutating and potentially becoming transmissible between humans, though currently, the CDC considers the risk to the general public to be low. Two dairy farmworkers in Michigan have recovered from the virus, with four total cases in the U.S.

USDA and MDARD officials assure that there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply, as pasteurization inactivates bacteria and viruses.

On May 1, Tim Boring signed a "Determination of Extraordinary Emergency" to further protect Michigan's poultry and livestock industries from HPAI. This state order enhances the USDA's federal order issued on April 24.

For more information or to sign up for HPAI alerts, visit michigan.gov/birdflu. Additional guidance on protecting home flocks is available from Michigan State University Extension, detailing practices to reduce the risk of disease transmission to backyard poultry.
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