Home Industry News Economics Avian Flu Continues Spreading Across U.S. Dairies, Detection in Idaho Cows

Avian Flu Continues Spreading Across U.S. Dairies, Detection in Idaho Cows

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on March 28th at a dairy cattle farm in Cassia County, bringing the number of affected states to four and adding more evidence the virus may be spreading cow-to-cow.

Earlier in the week, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that an investigation into mysterious illnesses in dairy cows in three states—Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas—was due to HPAI and that wild birds are the source of the virus. Tests on samples from cows in Kansas and Texas revealed the H5N1 subtype.

As epidemiologic investigations continue and scientists continue to further characterize the virus, the surprising finding has prompted a host of new questions, such as whether the virus can explain all of the symptoms, if the virus had already been infecting cows but was undetected, and what biosecurity measures can help protect dairy herds.

Farm had imported cattle from earlier-affected state

In a statement, the ISDA said the facility had recently imported cattle from another state that had identified HPAI in cattle. “The primary concern with this diagnosis is on-farm production losses, as the disease has been associated with decreased milk production,” the agency said.

The ISDA urged dairy producers to closely monitor their herds and contact their local veterinarian immediately if cattle show symptoms, which include a drop in milk production, appetite loss, changes in manure consistency, thickened or colostrum-like milk, and low-grade fever.

It also urged farmers to enhance their biosecurity measures.

Findings prompt warnings, steps in other states

In the wake of the detections, a few states have already imposed special import requirements, according to background information on the New Mexico Livestock Board’s website.

Delaware is requiring veterinarians to call the agriculture department before shipping cattle to determine if they are from affected counties in New Mexico. Cattle moved from affected counties will be placed in quarantine for 30 days after entering Delaware.

Idaho has prohibited importation of all cattle not destined for an approved slaughterhouse from all locations in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets said yesterday that HPAI hasn’t been detected in dairy cattle or goats in the state, but it continues to closely monitor the evolving situation. It issued an alert to veterinarians urging them to contact state officials if they see any signs of the illness in farm animals.

It also reminded consumers that pasteurized dairy products and properly cooked meat are safe for consumption. — By Lisa Schnirring, University of Minnesota

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