New information is coming to light on extent of outbreak, how it’s transferred, food safety, and protecting employees.

As disease investigations continue, additional dairy herds affected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI or “Bird Flu”) have been identified. As of this writing, there have been laboratory confirmations of HPAI infection in 36 herds in nine states, including Texas, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Idaho, Ohio, South Dakota, North Carolina, and Colorado.

The disease syndrome has not been reported in California, nor in beef cattle in any state. As new laboratory and epidemiologic data are released, we are gaining a better picture of the disease and how it might be spread.

Pasteurization kills the HPAI virus in dairy products.

The FDA’s national milk sampling study of 297 commercial retail dairy products from 38 states demonstrated the presence of viral fragments in about 1 in 5 retail samples. However, subsequent testing of positive samples using the “gold standard” Embryonated Egg Inoculation Test demonstrated that no live virus survives the pasteurization process. Additional sampling of powdered infant and toddler formations also contained no live virus. Separately, a survey of retail ground beef samples in affected states all have tested negative for the virus.

The disease is potentially passed by asymptomatic cattle or contaminated equipment.

Dairy herds in Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina reported to have recently received animals from affected herds or states, suggesting potential “lateral transmission” from transported asym8ptomatic cows. Genetic analysis suggests that the outbreak likely began in Texas when the virus jumped from wild birds on a single dairy and subsequently spread to other herds via either clinically normal cows or potentially contaminated trailer equipment. This highlights the importance of pressure washing and disinfecting trailers that have been used to transport potentially infected cattle. This also reinforces the importance of knowing the history of herd additions and completing segregation (“quarantine”) of new arrivals for at least 30 days. Producers should be aware that there is evidence that infected dairy herd have transmitted the virus to previously uninfected nearby commercial poultry flocks.

Testing is now required for interstate movement of lactating dairy cattle.

A new Federal Order issued by USDA requires mandatory testing of lactating dairy crossing state lines. Cattle samples originating in California will be tested by the California Animal Health & Food Safety (CAHFS) laboratory in Davis. Milk samples must be collected within 7 days prior to movement and results will be provided within 3 days of arrival at the lab. A premise location number is required for submission. CDFA has summarized new requirements on its HPAI homepage.

Cattle samples originating in other states would be submitted to a to a National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) lab in that state. USDA will pay for the cost of testing, but the cost of sample collection and submission are the responsibility of the owner. Similar testing of non-lactating dairy animals (youngstock and dry cows) may also be required in the future. Lactating dairy cattle moving interstate direct to slaughter are exempted from testing, but will still require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, CVI or “Owner Shipper Statement.” Questions about testing can be answered by your herd veterinarian or your local CDFA district office.

Producers should ensure employees don’t consume raw milk.

The virus’s genetic sequence is similar between cattle and wild birds found on affected farms, barn cats, and the single human case in a Texas dairy employee. CDC has released interim guidance for employees working on infected farms, barn cats, and the single human case in a Texas dairy employee. CDC has released interim guidance for employees working on infected farms.Producers are advised to ensure                   to ensure employees don’t consume raw milk. The FDA and CDC continue to warn of the danger of consuming unpasteurized milk.