Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed a third human case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5) virus infection. This is the second case recorded in Michigan.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

Along with the first human case in Texas, these are dairy farmworkers and connected to the outbreak of A(H5N1) in dairy cattle.

The first two cases reported eye symptoms (conjunctivitis), while this third case presented eye discomfort along with more typical symptoms of acute respiratory illness associated with influenza virus infection.

Since these cases are workers from different dairy farms, and no other workers at the same farm have reported symptoms, there is no indication of person-to-person spread of A(H5N1) viruses at this time, and the risk to the general public remains low.

Because all three sporadic cases had direct contact with infected cows, cow-to-person spread is probable, and dairy farmworkers with exposure to infected or potentially infected animals should take precautions.


Read: Staying safe in the milking parlor: Mitigating risk of HPAI infection

$824 million in new funding

The USDA is adding an additional $824 million in emergency funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to help ensure the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) can continue to provide critical rapid response activities.

The funding will support anticipated diagnostics; field response activities; premovement testing requirements; other necessary surveillance and control activities; surveillance in wildlife for APHIS; the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) work in developing vaccines for HPAI in cattle, turkeys, pigs and goats; and ARS and the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s food safety studies.

Bulk tank milk testing allowed

Additionally, the USDA is launching a new Voluntary H5N1 Dairy Herd Status Pilot Program to give dairy producers more options for testing and animal movement related to the federal order that took effect on April 24.

Once APHIS identifies states to participate in this pilot phase, dairy producers from those states will have the option to enroll their herds for a modified testing plan.

Herds that test negative for H5N1 for three consecutive weeks using on-farm bulk tank milk samples or similar representative milk samples tested at a NAHLN laboratory will be able to move animals without additional premovement testing currently required under the federal order. These producers must also comply with continued regular weekly monitoring and testing of the herd for H5N1.

Herds not enrolled in the pilot program will have to continue to follow the interstate testing and movement requirements published in the federal order.

Interested producers from states participating in this pilot can enroll by contacting their APHIS area veterinarian in charge or state veterinarian and signing a Herd Monitoring Plan agreement.

With increased producer participation in milk sample testing, the USDA hopes to establish state and/or regional disease-free statuses that could further ease compliance with the current federal order.

More specific guidance on the new program, including how to enroll and how to obtain and maintain a herd status, will be made available on the APHIS website.