Michigan finds H5N2 in wild geese; Iowa hit again

The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus H5N2 has been found in wild Canada geese in a Detroit suburb, marking its first detection in Michigan, and another poultry flock in Iowa has a probable outbreak, officials from the two states reported today.

In Michigan, three goslings that were collected last week in "a pretty urbanized area, near a mall" in Sterling Heights tested positive for the virus, Ed Golder, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), told CIDRAP News. He said the goslings were collected after some citizens noticed they were showing signs of neurologic illness, mainly head tremors and seizures. The city is on the north side of Detroit.

One of the goslings died after it was collected, and the other two were euthanized, Golder said. Samples tested positive at a University of Michigan laboratory in East Lansing, and the findings were confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, according to a press release from the Michigan DNR and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Michigan is the 21st state to report a case of HPAI since December 2014 and the sixth state to detect the virus only in wild birds, the release said.

"While this is disappointing news that the H5N2 virus has been found in Michigan's free-ranging bird population, it was not unexpected given avian influenza has been found in a number of our neighboring states and Ontario," MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams, MPP, said in the release. She stressed that avian flu has not been found in any domestic poultry in the state.

The H5N2 virus struck two turkey farms and one chicken farm in southern Ontario in April.

As part of their response to the find, Michigan authorities said they would change their regular program of relocating nuisance geese from southeastern Michigan to other parts of the state. Geese from Macomb County, home of Sterling Heights, and neighboring Oakland County will not be relocated.

Also, officials will step up avian flu surveillance in the two counties and increase biosecurity measures for contractors who relocate geese.

Iowa reports 73rd outbreak

Meanwhile, a mixed flock of 3,800 birds in Sioux County, Iowa, has tested positive for an H5 virus, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) reported today. Confirmatory testing by the NVSL is awaited.

The outbreak is the 18th for Sioux County, which is in northwestern Iowa.

About 29.1 million poultry, mostly chickens, have been affected by the H5N2 outbreaks at 73 sites in Iowa, according to the IDALS. The agency said today that all infected turkey flocks have been depopulated and that 26.3 million infected commercial layer chickens, representing 86% of the birds that have been affected, have been euthanized.

See also:

Jun 8 Michigan DNR-MDARD press release

Jun 8 IDALS press release

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