Three new states have detected highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle. Last week, state departments in Iowa, Minnesota and Wyoming reported cases of the disease, bringing the total of affected states to 12 and number of cases nationwide to just over 90.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

HPAI has also been found in dairy cattle in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas.

Dairy producers across the country are encouraged to practice good biosecurity, such as limiting visitors, minimizing cow movements, milking sick cows last, keeping feed and water sources clean, and excluding any wild birds or animals from the dairy.

Though recent cases of HPAI were confirmed in dairy workers in Texas and Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to believe the threat to the general public remains low.

Farmers or farm workers who interact regularly with dairy cattle should take extra precautions to limit possible transmissions.


“The primary concern with this diagnosis is on-dairy production losses, as the disease has been associated with decreased milk production. The risk to cattle is minimal and the risk to human health remains very low,” said Hallie Hasel, Wyoming state veterinarian.

According to the CDC, pasteurized dairy products remain safe to consume.

Dairies are always required dispose of milk from sick animals to ensure only milk from healthy animals enter the food chain.

Symptoms of HPAI in cattle include a drop in milk production, loss of appetite, changes in manure consistency, thickened or colostrum-like milk, and low-grade fever.

Dairy farmers should monitor their herd and contact their herd veterinarian immediately if cows appear sick.

“We knew it was only a matter of time before this detection would reach our doorstep,” said Minnesota State Veterinarian Dr. Brian Hoefs. “It’s important for dairy farmers to follow the example of this herd and test sick cows. The more the animal health community can learn about this virus today through testing and research, the better we can equip ourselves to prevent infections tomorrow.”

A USDA federal order regulating the interstate movement of lactating dairy cattle does require testing for and reporting of HPAI in certain dairy cattle.

Following the detected case in Iowa, the state’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is updating existing testing protocols to include testing of dairy farms around infected poultry sites to enhance the state’s response capabilities.

Additionally, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig is requesting resources from the USDA that will support impacted poultry and dairy farmers, as well as enhance state response efforts. For dairy farmers, he is seeking timely compensation for cull dairy cattle and lost milk production. Naig is also asking for additional epidemiological strike teams to assist with both poultry and dairy, additional USDA Wildlife Services personnel to assist in the surveying of disease in wildlife around Iowa poultry and dairy facilities, and accelerated funding for research to strengthen and enhance producer mitigation strategies.

“Highly pathogenic avian influenza continues to pose a significant threat to our livestock and the livelihoods of the farmers that care for them. To better prepare and respond to this challenge, the department is taking additional response measures and is making additional resource requests of USDA in order to support this ongoing and collaborative effort,” Naig said.

In May, the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced actions aimed at reducing the impact and spread of HPAI through increased testing and screening and testing capacity, and other measures. An additional $824 million was made available to support anticipated diagnostics, field response activities, premovement testing requirements, other necessary surveillance and control activities, surveillance in wildlife and more.