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HPAI Has Dairy on Edge


This week, USDA confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in dairy herds in Texas, Kansas and New Mexico, afflicting primarily older dairy cows causing decreased lactation, low appetite and other symptoms.  The cows recover and there is no need to cull cattle.  The source of this “bird flu” is likely migratory wild birds, making control and eradication at source nearly impossible.  The transmission of avian viruses among livestock has long been a concern; for example, avian mycoplasmas originating from commercial layer operations can be devastating to turkey growers.  

The dairy industry has been on top of it to clarify that dairy products are and continue to be safe for human consumption.  And beyond herd to herd transmission, the largest threat to the industry is consumer misinformation about product safety.  That said, the dairy industry needs to double down on biosecurity plans and control access to dairy herds.   

"...[T]here is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply or that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health. Dairies are required to send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption; milk from impacted animals is being diverted or destroyed so that it does not enter the food supply. In addition, pasteurization has continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk. Pasteurization is required for any milk entering interstate commerce.


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