Animal Health Update: Issue 31

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Issue 31

Arbovirus Testing

Funding Returns for Free Arbovirus Testing!


For 2021, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is again sponsoring a grant that will provide funding to cover the costs of testing suspect animals for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV). The funding is open to anyone in Michigan provided:

  1. The animal for testing resides in Michigan.
  2. The animal is (or was recently) showing signs of neurological disease or suddenly died.
  3. The testing is preapproved by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
  4. The samples are submitted to Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The goal of the grant is to test any Michigan animal that is suspected of having a mosquito-borne illness, especially equids. Last year, with 37 domestic animal cases, Michigan experienced the fourth worst EEE outbreak in animals on record. All but one of these animals either died or were euthanized due to their disease. Cases were also seen in counties where the disease had never been reported before. While it is difficult to predict what will happen in 2021, it is certain that testing of suspect animals will provide valuable insights.

To take advantage of this funding opportunity, when a neurologic animal is suspected of having EEE or WNV, please first request this testing by sending an email with a completed Reporting a Reportable Animal Disease Form to If any complications or questions arise, please call MDARD at 800-292-3939. Typically, requests are reviewed and responded to within one business day.

Pending approval, samples may be collected and stored. Acceptable samples include brain and/or blood. Brain is always preferred as this allows for a more definitive diagnosis of arboviruses. With brain samples, rabies testing will also be performed at no cost.

If submitting brain, an animal’s head can be sent to the laboratory; the brain does not have to be removed prior to the sample being sent. Also, to help aid in testing, MDARD may be able to transport the packaged head and completed forms to the laboratory. Contact MDARD at 800-2929-3939 for more information. When submitting blood, please collect and submit both serum and whole blood. 

Further, when submitting samples, it is crucial to collect a thorough vaccine history on the animal, particularly when submitting blood. If possible, please try to determine when the animal was last vaccinated against EEE and WNV. In addition, it is helpful to know if the animal completed an initial vaccine series and who last vaccinated the animal (e.g., owner, veterinarian).

If approved, MDARD will send laboratory submittal forms. These forms are to be completed and submitted along with the sample itself to Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Further directions for sending the sample can be found on the submittal forms. Once the testing is completed, MDARD will send notification of the results. 

Testing for arboviruses helps to safeguard not only animal health but also to provide important insights for protecting human health. In 2020, 54 animals were tested using this available funding, identifying 32 of the 37 EEE cases discovered that year. This information was crucial in helping to guide communication and abatement efforts. Please be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

Staffing Update

New Assistant State Veterinarian Selected

Headshot of Dr. Jen Calogero

Jennifer Calogero, DVM, PhD, has been selected to fill the open Assistant State Veterinarian position in the Animal Industry Division (AID) at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Dr. Calogero will serve as the animal welfare coordinator and Assistant State Veterinarian covering swine, cervids and small ruminants, companion animals, horses, poultry, and aquaculture. Before joining MDARD, Dr. Calogero participated in an internship with the National Park Service Wildlife Health Branch, worked as a Wildlife Biologist at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and served as a Veterinary Epidemiologist for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

After working for MDHHS, she joined AID as the Cervid and Small Ruminant Program Manager. In this role, she served as the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Epidemiologist for the State of Michigan; coordinated with federal partners, such as the US Department of Agriculture, on federally run programs; and responded to reportable diseases within Cervidae and small ruminants.   

“I am very excited to now be serving as one of the Assistant State Veterinarians and as the Animal Welfare Coordinator,” said Dr. Calogero. “I look forward to continuing to work with veterinarians, animal owners, and farmers to protect, regulate, and promote animal health.” 


MDARD-AID Supply Line Change

On April 2, 2021, the old MDARD-AID supply line phone number was retired. Please be sure to call 517-284-5800 for supplies.

Supplies can also be ordered through email by completing the Supply Order Form and sending it to

Additionally, whether ordering by phone or online, please be sure to allow one to three business days for the supply request to be processed and three to five business days for shipping.

Disease Update

SARS-CoV-2 in Animals


Last year, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) added SARS-CoV-2 to the Reportable Disease list; it is reportable in all animals as a Regulated Disease. 

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. While the virus primarily affects people, it can sometimes spread from people to susceptible animal species, especially after close contact with a person with COVID-19. However, it is important to note that there is no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people.

Common signs of the disease in animals include sneezing, coughing, lethargy, inappetence, and/or fever. In addition to these signs, some animals may have vomiting and diarrhea. Animals known to be susceptible to the virus include cats (including large exotic cats), dogs, rabbits, ferrets, mink, pigs, primates, hamsters, bats, raccoon dogs, and white-tailed deer.

For an animal to be tested for SARS-CoV-2, the tester must first submit a request to MDARD and receive approval. To make a determination on a request, MDARD follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Criteria to Guide Evaluation and Laboratory Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Animals

To date, MDARD has received 29 requests to test animals, and 16 of these requests were approved. Also, other than two mink from a Michigan mink farm, there have been no other confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Michigan animals. 

If you need to submit a request to test an animal for SARS-CoV-2, please contact MDARD at 800-292-3939. To report a case of SARS-CoV-2 in an animal, please complete and submit a Reportable Animal Disease Form to

Michigan’s Backyard Poultry Producers Need Veterinarians

Are you on MDARD’s Poultry Veterinarian List?

Chickens standing in grass

With avian influenza circulating in many parts of the world, maintaining the health of Michigan’s poultry is crucial.

As part of a continuing effort to expand the resources available for backyard poultry producers, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is again collecting information from Michigan veterinarians who are willing to provide poultry medical care and diagnostic services for small producers.

Please take our short survey to outline the services that you are willing to provide and to add your name to the list of veterinarians in Michigan who are willing to work with poultry if your name is not already included.

Veterinary Advisory

Tularemia Discovered in Wild Rabbits from Northern Indiana

With the recent discovery of Francisella tularensis (tularemia) in multiple wild rabbits in northern Indiana, veterinarians in the southern portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula are advised to keep tularemia on their differential list for dogs and cats.

More details on the cases of the disease can be found in a recently published veterinary advisory from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH).