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UPDATE: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued important updates on the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) (H5N1) virus in dairy cattle, as well as one person.
CDC confirms HPAI H5N1 virus infection in a person
Yesterday the CDC confirmed that a person in the U.S. has tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza HPAI H5N1 virus. The person had exposure to dairy cattle in Texas presumed to be infected with HPAI. The patient reported eye redness (consistent with conjunctivitis), as their only symptom, and is recovering. H5N1 viruses have only rarely been transmitted from person to person and as such, the risk to the general public remains low at this time.
Pasteurized milk and dairy remain safe – consumers should avoid raw milk
The USDA, CDC, FDA, and state of Texas reaffirmed that pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe to consume. Pasteurization is proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza inclusive of avian influenza, in milk. FDA also recommends out of an abundance of caution that milk from cows in an affected herd not be used to produce raw milk cheeses.
HPAI now in 5 states
The USDA confirms HPAI in dairy herd in New Mexico, as well as 5 additional dairy herds in Texas. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories. 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. To date, USDA has confirmed HPAI in dairy herds in Texas (7) Kansas (2), Michigan (1), and New Mexico (1). There are presumptive positive test results in an Idaho herd that are still pending analysis.
Advanced biosecurity remains paramount
Robust biosecurity protocols are critical to preventing and managing HPAI on dairy farms. The National Dairy FARM Program offers several valuable biosecurity resources providing dairy farmers with tools to keep their cattle and dairy businesses safe, including:

Information for Affected Producers
If farmers suspect their cows are sick, veterinarians should report illnesses to state vet authorities as soon as possible. USDA has told the dairy community and practitioners that cattle are expected to fully recover in a few weeks and there is no need to cull dairy cows as HPAI poses a low risk to human health. In the meantime, USDA strongly recommends limited or cautious movement of cattle, testing before moving cattle, and quarantining cattle upon arrival at their destination. USDA will continue to share information as they learn more.

Your national and local dairy associations will continue to work across the industry with key stakeholders and monitor this situation for misinformation. Please contact Jenny Crabtree at 614-890-1800 with any questions

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