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Michigan takes proactive approach to bird flu

Michigan takes proactive approach to bird flu

By Andi Anderson

As questions swirl around bird flu, Michigan is taking a proactive approach to managing the virus in dairy cattle and humans. While national criticism mounts, other states are looking to Michigan's strategy for guidance.

“If you don’t look for something you’re not going to find it,” said Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive for Michigan. “And I think the difference between what we’re seeing in Michigan and what other folks are seeing in other states is that we are looking for this virus.”

Michigan offers free tests for those developing symptoms and uses text messages and phone calls to check on farmers. Meanwhile, states like Iowa and Colorado are ramping up their testing and setting new requirements.

Iowa mandated dairy cattle be tested before participating in state fairs and exhibitions in late June, while Colorado has offered similar guidance without a testing requirement.

After the cattle outbreak surfaced in late March, Michigan prioritized learning about the H5N1 bird flu virus, emphasizing testing and monitoring as many animals and people as possible.

“Michigan is looking more closely than a lot of other states,” said Lauren Sauer, director of pandemic preparedness research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security.

“They’re doing more surveillance on humans and animals, so they’re finding more cases in both. That tells me that we’re only finding things where we’re looking, and that’s not where we want to be.”

Michigan's efforts led to an increase in detections in dairy herds across the state in April and May, with 25 confirmed cases during the entire outbreak, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, only one case has been reported over the past month, while more detections appear in Colorado, Iowa, and Idaho.

Last week, Colorado identified its first human case of bird flu linked to the cattle outbreak. A dairy worker reported pink eye after exposure to sick cows in the northeastern part of the state and has since recovered. This marks the fourth known human detection of bird flu related to the virus infecting U.S. cattle.

Michigan's proactive measures against bird flu, including extensive testing and monitoring, are setting a standard for other states. The state's focus on early detection and thorough surveillance aims to control the virus effectively, protecting both animal and public health.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-erdinhasdemir

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Categories: Michigan, Government & Policy, Livestock, Dairy Cattle

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