Avian flu found in Michigan prompts Detroit Zoo to move its birds indoors

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A majority of birds on exhibit at the Detroit Zoo are being moved indoors as a precaution against the bird flu, which federal and state officials have confirmed to be in Michigan.

The birds will remain indoors as long as necessary to ensure their health and safety, and many will be out of public view, the Detroit Zoological Society said Friday in a release.

Zoo staff can more closely monitor the birds indoors and prevent them from having contact with wild birds that may carry highly pathogenic avian influenza, said Ann Duncan, director of animal health for the zoological society.


Flamingos, ostrich, cassowary, sandhill cranes and the zoo-roaming peafowl will be among the birds out of view, as will all birds housed in the Matilda R. Wilson Free-Flight Aviary, the zoological society said.

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The Polk Penguin Conservation Center will remain open and accessible to the public because it has separate air handling systems for birds and visitors to the zoo, which is located just north of Detroit in Royal Oak.

Federal officials said a strain of the virus had been detected in a noncommercial backyard flock of birds in Kalamazoo County in southwestern Michigan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday that Michigan officials have quarantined the Kalamazoo County site and 34 birds at that property “will be depopulated to prevent the spread of disease.”

It’s not clear how the strain reached the backyard flock, a USDA spokeswoman said.

Similar infections have been reported across the United States in recent weeks.

The virus strain is potentially deadly to commercial poultry. A 2015 avian flu outbreak killed 50 million birds across 15 states and cost the federal government nearly $1 billion.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the recent bird flu cases do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these viruses have been detected in the U.S.