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Still much to learn about HPAI in cattle

The Kansas Animal Health Commissioner says the agriculture industry has learned a lot about the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus in dairy cattle in the last month, but there’s still a lot to learn.

Dr. Justin Smith says the virus detected in cattle is the same virus that’s been detected in poultry, but the transmission is different.

“We know in cattle right now it’s not highly pathogenic and the fact it doesn’t cause a death loss and we don’t know exactly how it’s being spread from cow-to-cow. The mechanism of how it’s affecting cattle is different from the poultry industries.”

He says there are unanswered questions, too.

“To understand how did this shift happen and is there an opportunity to help prevent this for future purposes and to truly understand the pathogenesis and epidemiology of this virus from within our dairy system.”      

Three dairies in Kansas have confirmed cases of HPAI in lactating cows. Smith says those dairies have biosecurity practices in place, but haven’t been quarantined to allow the movement of other cattle and milk from healthy cows.

Smith says the three dairies do see cattle movement from Texas, but none of the cows that have tested positive came from Texas. He also says there are confirmed cases of HPAI in poultry in Kansas and the state is investigating any possible connections to that and the four cases.

HPAI has been confirmed in dairies across six states including Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Kansas and according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no concern for food safety, and the public health risk remains low.

Smith was part of a HPAI roundtable at the NIAA meeting this week.

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