Avian influenza detected in Michigan, Idaho dairy herds

Highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in a large commercial dairy located in central Michigan. The herd, located in Montcalm County, recently received cattle from an affected premises in Texas.

Dr. Nora Wineland, Michigan’s state veterinarian, says the cattle left Texas on March 7 and did not appear ill. “The first animals that were noticed to be ill were on March 20th,” she says.  “And then the diagnosis, the initial screening diagnosis was on the 26th.”

Tim Slawinski, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Food Safety and Animal Health says this does not impact the safety of the commercial milk supply. “There are measures in place to prevent this type of thing from being a threat to the supply measures, both at the farm level in terms of keeping milk from unhealthy cows out of the supply, but also at the processing level,” he says. “There’s a pasteurization requirement, both federally and at the state level.”

Dr. Wineland says the virus’s genome sequence continues to be monitored to see if the threat to mammals has increased. “The threat has been considered low,” she says. Throughout this time of the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, that threat has been consistently labeled as low by our public health colleagues.”

She says the affected premises voluntarily stopped movement of all animals. 

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease and Prevention, the commercial milk supply remains safe due to both federal animal health requirements and pasteurization.

On Thursday, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza in a dairy cattle operation.  The affected facility also recently imported cattle from another state that has identified cases of HPAI in cattle.  The Idaho Department of Agriculture says this could indicate the virus may be transmitted from cow to cow, in addition to previous reports indicating cattle were acquiring the virus from infected birds. 

Operations are encouraged to implement enhanced biosecurity measures across all facilities and closely monitor herds.  If cattle appear to be symptomatic, owners should contact their local veterinarian.    

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