HPAI testing encouraged on dairies

A dairy specialist is encouraging farmers to participate in testing for possible H5N1 Influenza A outbreaks and increase worker precautions.

Michigan State University Extension’s Phil Durst tells Brownfield data collected will provide long-term benefits.  

“The health and safety of workers is important and so a lot of farmers have taken the opportunity to talk with the workers about the risks, how wearing personal protective equipment, PPE, can maybe prevent infection.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says while the risk of the virus to the general public remains low, people in contact with infected birds, cows, other animals, or raw milk are at greatest risk.

Durst says use of additional protective equipment like face shields so far has been mixed.

“Not everybody’s going to say, ‘yeah, I want to wear that,’ and we recognize that,” he says. “That’s certainly what we’ve seen in our society when it comes to PPE choices that people make decisions about that for themselves.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of securing nearly five million doses of H5N1 avian influenza vaccines as part of the country’s influenza pandemic preparedness. A new modeling study by the CDC finds influenzas testing in healthcare settings should serve as a warning system of a potential outbreak. 

Healthcare workers are encouraged to remain on alert for influenza cases over the summer as monitoring of H5N1 continues.

AUDIO: Phil Durst, Michigan State University Extension

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