Work underway in Michigan to build out HPAI animal and public health response

A state agricultural director says while the human health risk today of highly pathogenic avian influenza is low, he’s concerned about what the risk could become.

Tim Boring recently addressed the Michigan legislature on how the state has confirmed the most known cases of the disease in the country.

“The national response to this would not be in the place that it is today if not for the cooperation and participation of Michigan farms of building out this kind of robust understanding of transmission pathways,” he says.

Boring says whole genome sequencing has found the virus not only moves from cow to cow, but it is also transferred on vehicles and people.

“We don’t have indications at this point that the dairy strains of this virus have moved into wild bird populations, and that’s a significant transmission pathway, but that’s not something that can be completely eliminated either,” he explains.

He says cattle showing no symptoms have also been confirmed with the virus in North Carolina.

“There’s H5N1 present in the cattle, but the cattle have never been sick, and they’ve never displayed clinical signs which is an added wrinkle and complexity to what this really looks like,” he says.

Borings says it’s been more than six weeks since HPAI was detected on a poultry farm in the state which is likely tied to heightened biosecurity efforts.

He says Michigan is in the process of securing grant agreements with the USDA and 20 affected farms to build out testing and responses for animal and public health.

Lawmakers say plan they plan to consider the outbreak an ongoing crisis in upcoming budget discussions.

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