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HPAI confirmed in dairy cows in multiple states and Texas egg farm (updated)

Source: Georgia Farm Bureau


UPDATE - As of April 10, 20 dairy herds in the United States have been affected by H5N1, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Texas has had the most confirmed cases with nine herds affected, followed by New Mexico with four, Kansas with three, and Michigan with two. Ohio and Idaho have each had one herd affected.


 

In early April, dairy herds in Texas (7), Kansas (2), Michigan (1) New Mexico (1) and Idaho (1) have been confirmed to have cattle infected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported April 3.





USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) is currently performing comfirmatory tests on test samples taken from cattle in Ohio and from more cattle in Kansas, New Mexico and Texas. USDA has created a webpage with recent announcements pertaining to HPAI detections in livestock along with biosecurity information and other resources. USDA will daily update the page by 4 p.m. ET with any new confirmed detections.


Wild migratory birds are believed to be the source of avian flu infections in the herds in Texas, Kansas and New Mexico. The Michigan dairy farm with infected cattle had recently received cows from Texas before HPAI was detected in the state. USDA’s NVSL has confirmed that the strain of HPAI found in the Michigan herd is very similar to the strain initially confirmed on Texas and Kansas dairies (H5N1, Eurasian lineage goose) on March 25.


Cows infected with HPAI are exhibiting symptoms that include: a significant decrease in milk production (10-30 lbs./cow), low appetite, and fever, according to the USDA. The affected cattle are being isolated from the healthy cows in their herds and most have recovered with little to no deaths, the USDA reported on March 29.





In related news, on April 2, Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., announced that one of its facilities located in Parmer County, Texas, tested positive for HPAI. This led to the depopulation of about 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or approximately 3.6% of Cal-Maine’s total flock as of March 2.


Cal-Maine has temporarily ceased production at the Texas facility per safety protocols prescribed by the USDA. Cal-Maine Foods says production from other facilities will minimize disruption to its customers.


In its statement, Cal-Maine said it remains dedicated to robust biosecurity programs across its locations. The company pointed out, however, that no farm is immune from HPAI since the virus is still present in the wild bird population with heightened risk during migration seasons that cannot be predicted.


Pasteurized Dairy Products, Cooked Eggs Safe for Consumers


While the USDA, FDA and CDC continue to work with state veterinary and public health officials to investigate any reports of sick cattle and poultry, the USDA and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) continue to assure the public that the commercial supply of pasteurized milk and dairy products is safe that the dairy cattle with HPAI pose no risk to consumer health.


Likewise, the USDA reports that HPAI cannot be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked eggs. There is no known risk related to HPAI associated with eggs that are currently in the market and no eggs have been recalled.



Federal and state food laws require dairy farms to send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption; milk from the sick animals is being diverted or destroyed so that it does not enter the food supply. In addition, pasteurization has continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk. Pasteurization is required for any milk entering interstate commerce.


FDA has a longstanding position that unpasteurized, raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to consumers.


As of April 2, milk loss resulting from the sick cows is too small to have a major impact on the U.S. dairy supply, so there should be no impact on the price of milk or other dairy products, the USDA reports.


The Meat Institute says properly prepared beef is safe to eat and is not a food safety risk to humans.


“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USDA food safety experts, properly prepared beef is safe to eat,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “HPAI cannot be transmitted to humans by eating meat or poultry products. The Meat Institute and its member companies will continue to be vigilant to aid in the efforts to stop the spread of the disease among animals in food production.”


On April 1, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that a person in Texas has tested positive for HPAI A(H5N1) virus; the CDC also stated in its announcement that this infection does not change the A(H5N1) bird flu human health risk assessment for the U.S. general public, which CDC considers to be low.


This person had exposure to dairy cattle in Texas presumed to be infected with HPAI A(H5N1) viruses. The patient reported eye redness (consistent with pink eye), as their only symptom, and is recovering. The patient was told to isolate and is being treated with an antiviral drug for flu. People with close or prolonged, unprotected exposures to infected birds or other animals (including livestock), or to environments contaminated by infected birds or other animals, are at greater risk of infection. CDC has interim recommendations for prevention, monitoring, and public health investigations of HPAI A(H5N1) viruses.


The NVSL has also confirmed that the strain of the virus found in subsequent states is very similar to the strain originally confirmed in cattle in Texas and Kansas that appears to have been introduced by wild birds (H5N1, Eurasian lineage goose/Guangdong clade 2.3.4.4b). Initial testing has not found changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible to humans.


Biosecurity resources for dairy farmers


The Georgia Milk Producers (GMP) organization reported in its April 3 newsletter that it is continuing to work with the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) Animal Health Division and the State Veterinarian’s office to monitor the situation.


GMP and GDA are encouraging Georgia dairy farmers to follow these tips:

1) If you notice five or more dead birds on your farm, contact Georgia DNR or GDA Animal Health at 404-656-3667.

2) When disposing of dead birds or other wildlife, be sure to use gloves and other personal protective equipment that you can discard or disinfect. Bury any dead animals well to prevent other wildlife from finding it. Discard or disinfect anything that may have come in contact with dead animals before returning to barns or milking parlor.

3)Wash your hands and disinfect your boots often.

4)Disinfect equipment before and after working with animals.

5)Maintain good barriers & fences between cattle and surrounding wildlife.

6) Empty and clean water troughs frequently.


At this time it’s important for Georgia dairy farmers to:

1) Contact your veterinarian if you notice unusual or persistent illness and the following symptoms: reduced feed intake, reduced rumination, reduced milk production, abnormal milk, lethargy, fever, pneumonia, loose or abnormal feces, and dehydration.

2) Practice sound biosecurity practices including limiting access to dairy cattle to essential personnel only, using Personal Protection Equipment and disposing or sanitizing boots and any equipment when interacting with wildlife or moving from hospital pens to the rest of the herd.

3) Remember that the milk supply and dairy food chains are secure and food safety regulations (namely the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance) are designed to both prevent abnormal milk from entering the food chain and pasteurization processes are proven effective in eliminating pathogens in milk.


Georgia dairy producers with any questions are encouraged to contact Bryce Trotter, GMP executive director, or GDA’s Animal Health Division at 404-656-3667 or animalhealth@agr.georgia.gov.

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