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Health

Neighbors report smell and hazmat suits after bird flu outbreak

BOSTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — About 2.6 million birds were affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza, or bird flu, during the latest outbreak in Michigan, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last month, the virus was detected at Michigan’s premier egg producer, Herbruck Poultry Ranch in Ionia County. Nearby neighbors say it’s been an active few weeks as state and federal regulators respond.

“It smelled very bad, there were a lot of flies,” remarked a local resident who wished to remain anonymous.

That’s how neighbors living along Grand River Avenue in Saranac describe what it’s been like over the past few weeks.

“There’s been a lot of traffic, a lot going on,” the resident said.

Photos taken next to this neighbor’s workers in hazmat suits and large piles of what looks like dirt.

“They take a piece of equipment, fill it up – it looks like a big pile of dirt – put it in the back of a tractor-trailer and take it out into the back field,” the neighbor said.

The poultry farm released a statement this week.

“Herbruck’s works closely with federal and state regulators and implements the protocols and procedures we are required to follow when disinfecting our facilities. We are working as safely and quickly as possible to resume normal operations at our facilities,” the statement said.

“We are seeing a number of detections in herds on the west side of Michigan,” said Tim Boring, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to MDARD, Avian Flu has been detected in poultry flocks in Newaygo, Ottawa and Ionia counties.

Boring said that when HPAI is detected, the USDA must follow many established procedures and policies.

“It is deadly to birds and highly contagious, so eradicating the virus from the environment as quickly as possible is one of the highest priorities,” Boring said.

Unfortunately, he added that there was only one way to deal with this problem: “Preventive depopulation of herds is the way to go,” he explained.

Regulators must dispose of birds properly, sanitize and disinfect facilities to prevent their spread, according to Boring.

“Composting is our preferred method of eliminating birds. This keeps the virus there,” Boring explained.

Boring said it could cause an odor.

“Much effort has been made to ensure that the practices used are safe for the environment, for water, for air and for human health,” he said.

“I think it’s terrible. It’s really hard for them, it’s really hard for the neighborhood,” he added. “I know the Herbrucks are trying their best to do everything they can.”

Neighbors hope to quickly return to a normal spring.

“I hope it ends soon. I would like to do some exterior work soon,” said one resident.

HPAI was also recently detected in dairy cattle in Michigan. According to MDARD, cases have been detected in cattle in Allegan, Barry, Montcalm, Ottawa and Ionia counties.

News Source : www.woodtv.com
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