KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The state confirms avian influenza has been discovered in a non-commercial backyard flock of birds in Kalamazoo County.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, samples were sent to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for testing, then confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

Dr. Nora Wineland, the state veterinarian and animal industry division director, says the department was alerted of the sick birds at a home on Tuesday.

“We are concerned about highly pathogenic avian influenza as it has been detected in other states and we have not had a detection before,” Wineland said.

MDARD noted there is no immediate public health concern, and no human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

To protect other flocks, the state said the premises in Kalamazoo County is under quarantine, and “the birds have been depopulated to prevent further disease spread.”

“The usually do not survive, so they are sick, they stop eating, they stop drinking, they cough, sneeze and people notice that their feathers are ruffled up,” Wineland said.

Poultry owners are told to watch for unusual deaths, fewer eggs, birds drinking less water or getting sick.

“They should be protecting those birds from access by wild birds so keep them indoors if at all possible, keep them away from the sources of water that wild birds might use, keep their feed protected,” Wineland said.

Even though these cases were not found in a commercial flock, the state says poultry farms should still be vigilant.

“We’re absolutely concerned. If this were to get into our commercial productions that would be a game changer for our industry, and so we really want people to be watching for any signs of ill birds,” Wineland said.

If you suspect a bird has avian influenza, you should contact MDARD immediately at 800.292.3939 or after-hours at 517.373.0440.

More information about how to protect flocks through biosecurity measures can be found on the USDA’s website.