Animal Health Update: Issue 26

a i d - michigan animal health update

Issue 26

Veterinarians, We Need You!

Michigan’s Backyard Poultry Hobbyists Need Veterinarians


The amount of people interested in raising backyard chickens, whether to be used for a source of food, showing at exhibition, or keeping as pets, has increased dramatically over the last decade. Many municipalities now have ordinances that allow for the possession of backyard poultry, and recent American Veterinary Medical Association surveys estimate that more than one percent of all households in the US own poultry as pets. With the increased prevalence of backyard chicken owners comes an increase in the number of people requiring access to veterinary resources. However, for the small poultry producer, the supply of veterinary resources has not kept up with the demand for their services. 

In an effort to increase resources for backyard poultry producers, we are collecting the names of veterinarians in Michigan who are willing to provide poultry medical care and diagnostic services for small producers. 

Please take our short survey to put your name on a list of veterinarians in Michigan who are willing to work with poultry.

Rabies Resources

New Rabies FAQ for Veterinarians Now Available

Yellow Dog

In our last issue, we included a reminder that in Michigan, dogs must be currently vaccinated against rabies by an accredited veterinarian to obtain an individual dog license, which is required by law. We received a lot of questions around this topic and wanted to follow-up. We’ve created a Rabies Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians and highlighted a few of the questions below.

Do I have to be USDA Accredited to sign a rabies certificate for a dog?

Yes, veterinarians must be accredited to sign a rabies certificate. Under state law, specifically the Dog Law (Act 339 of 1919), all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed by six months of age. In this law it states that to apply for an individual dog license, a dog owner must present a rabies certificate, signed by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Accredited Veterinarian.

What if a veterinarian has vaccinated dogs while unaccredited?

On occasion, MDARD encounters Michigan veterinarians who are unaware of this law and have issued rabies certificates without being accredited. When this happens, MDARD advises those veterinarians to become accredited as soon as possible. Initial accreditation training can be completed online and then veterinarians must attend a one-time, in-person orientation class, which is held quarterly. For more information on accreditation, visit the USDA’s website or contact the USDA’s Michigan office at 517-337-4701. Dogs vaccinated prior to the veterinarian becoming accredited do not need to be revaccinated.

Can a USDA accredited veterinarian supervise the vaccination of a dog?

Accredited veterinarians can supervise rabies vaccinations performed by licensed, non-accredited Michigan veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians. The supervising accredited veterinarian must examine the dog prior to the vaccination, closely supervise the vaccination, and sign the rabies certificate. The accredited veterinarian performing the examination does not need to be the same accredited veterinarian that supervises vaccination.

Additional questions? Download the complete Rabies Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians or contact Animal Industry Division’s Companion Animal Program by email at or phone at 517-284-5688.

Running Horse

Equine Update:

Free Arbovirus Testing Available for Suspect Animals

Funds are again available this year for West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) testing for suspect equine and other animals. The limited funds specifically cover the testing fee to test animals for WNV and EEE. Any additional costs such as sample collection, shipment, and animal disposal are not covered.

If you have an animal that has developed or recently died from a sudden onset of neurologic signs and the owner approves pursuing additional testing, contact AID at 800-292-3939. AID staff must approve all testing prior to submission. If approved, samples must be submitted to Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Acceptable samples include serum, cerebral spinal fluid, and brain tissue. If a brain sample is submitted, it will also be tested for rabies virus for free.

Laboratory Update:

Blood Samples Being Sent to Wrong Address

MDARD Lansing offices are regularly receiving misdirected blood samples for equine infectious anemia (EIA), brucellosis, and pseudorabies testing for the MDARD Geagley Laboratory, which can result in lost or damaged samples and/or a delay in testing. The laboratory is located in a separate location from the MDARD offices. Samples submitted to the laboratory must be sent to the laboratory’s location: 1615 S. Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI 48823.

African Swine Fever and Pet Pigs

Clinicians Should Keep ASF in Mind When Diagnosing Sick Pigs

pet pig

Many veterinary professionals may see an occasional pet pig as a patient, which are susceptible to the same diseases as pigs raised for commercial purposes.

As many of you may know, there is a serious foreign animal disease that affects pigs sweeping across China, Asia, and Eastern Europe called African swine fever (ASF). There's a concern that the virus may make its way to this country, and we want to increase awareness, in case a client brings in a sick (or deceased) pig to be examined.

ASF is a devastating pig disease that kills over 90 percent of infected pigs within 9-10 days after exposure. The clinical signs include fever, anorexia, lethargy, weakness, diarrhea (may be bloody), cyanosis, hemorrhage of the snout and skin, or respiratory disease including nasal discharge. These clinical signs are similar to other septicemic diseases, which is why prompt diagnostics are crucial. On live pigs, whole blood samples are used; and spleen, lymph nodes, and tonsil sample are used for deceased pigs. If you have reason to suspect ASF, the tissues or blood must be harvested and sent by a foreign animal disease diagnostician. 

We ask that you keep ASF in mind if you see a pet pig that is sick or has died. African swine fever is a reportable disease, and suspect cases should be reported to AID at 800-292-3939; (after hours) 517-373-0440.