Bird flu continues to spread among U.S. cattle

Bird flu continues to spread among U.S. cattle
Apr 12, 2024

The USDA confirmed the first case on March 25

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Livestock on U.S. farms continue to become infected with high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Researchers have speculated that the virus spread through milk droplets on milking machines or through farm worker clothing.

Here’s a timeline of events thus far.

March 25, 26 and 27
The USDA, FDA and CDC confirm cases of HPAI in dairy cattle in Texas and Kansas.

These confirmations came after older dairy cows became sick with an illness causing “decreased lactation, low appetite, and other symptoms.”

The agencies are confident the illness was introduced by deceased wild birds on farm properties.

March 29 and 30
The federal agencies confirm HPAI cases in dairy cattle in Michigan, and two additional Texas cases.

April 1, 2 and 4
Federal officials identify HPAI in dairy herds in New Mexico, Ohio, and Idaho. Plus, additional cases in Kansas and Texas.

On April 1, the CDC also confirmed a human case of HPAI in Texas.

“The person in Texas with H5N1 bird flu who had exposure to presumably infected cows reported eye redness, or conjunctivitis, as their only symptom and is recovering,” the CDC said. “The case in Texas would be the first known instance of a person getting bird flu from a cow.

April 5 and 6
More cases of HPAI are confirmed in dairy cows in Michigan and New Mexico.

April 8
The American Association of Bovine Practitioners recommend the term Bovine Influenza A Virus (BIAV) for the disease.

The organization took this action to recognize the distinct symptoms and lower fatality rate of the illness in cattle compared to poultry and wild birds.

April 9
North Carolina and South Dakota become the latest states to see BIAV in dairy cows. An additional case is confirmed in a New Mexico herd.

Despite the spread of the disease, milk and dairy products are safe to consume because the pasteurization process kills the virus.

Since the latest detections, states have started to restrict imports from jurisdictions with positive BIAV cases.

As of April 11, 17 states, including Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and California, have put import restrictions in place, the American Veterinary Medical Association says.

Cows aren’t the only other animals to be exposed to bird flu.

In January of this year, scientists confirmed cases of bird flu in fur and elephant seal populations in Antarctica, according to Reuters.

And a polar bear found dead in Alaska in the fall of 2023 was confirmed to have died of avian flu, Canadian Geographic reported.

The USDA has set up a landing page for information about the BIAV outbreaks in the U.S.

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