HPAI in cattle has not been detected in California so the PPE precautions described below are not at this time required on our dairies.

What to expect from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) should we start to see cases of HPAI on California dairies. Full letter available here.

The CDPH is cautioning producers of what might be recommended or required in the future. In the event that HPAI is detected on California dairies, CDQAP will work with our regulatory and industry partners to develop accessible outreach in both English and Spanish. Highlighted precautions below:

  • CDPH is recommending that producers make preparations to protect their employees should HPAI be detected on dairies in California. These recommendations mirror recommendations made by CDC for farm workers. See CDC’s infographic on this.
  • On infected farms CDPH will recommend that producers provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to employees who enter enclosed areas that house known or potentially sick animals or their manure or excretions.
  • Depending on the circumstances, this could include at a minimum N95 masks and potentially additional protective PPE particularly for workers in enclosed spaces or hospital pens. This could include goggles or faceplate respirator (potentially fit-tested), disposable Tyvek-like coveralls, gloves and hat or hair cover. CDQAP note: The sole case to date of a dairy employee infection is reported to have been inflammation of the eyes, likely from contact with milk from an infected cow in a hospital pen. Knowing that viral load in infected cows is highest in the milk, the most important of these PPE items listed above would appear to be splash goggles and a N95 mask, particularly for those employees coming in close contact with milk.
  • Employees that have had contact with known infected animals need to report flu or head cold-like symptoms to their manager who will contact the local health department. CDQAP note: Reporting potential cases to the local health department ensures the employee can tested (at no cost) to rule out HPAI. In the unlikely event the employee has been infected, and antiviral medications (such as Tamiflu®) and have been stocked and are available.
  • As always, steps should be taken to help prevent employee consumption of raw milk from the farm.

These recommendations may seem overwhelming at first glance, but producers can reassure their employees that the risk of contracting the virus is minuscule or, on an uninfected farm, nil.