News USDA Requires Farmers to Take Action to Protect Livestock from Avian Influenza 

USDA Requires Farmers to Take Action to Protect Livestock from Avian Influenza 

USDA Requires Farmers to Take Action to Protect Livestock from Avian Influenza 
April 25, 2024 |

By Maggie Edwards
(334) 613-4198

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking precautions to further protect the U.S. livestock industry from the threat posed by Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza. 

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced a Federal Order requiring the following measures, effective April 29.

Mandatory Testing for Interstate Movement of Dairy Cattle

  • Prior to interstate movement, dairy cattle are required to receive a negative test for Influenza A virus at an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratory.
  • Owners of herds in which dairy cattle test positive for interstate movement will be required to provide epidemiological information, including animal movement tracing.
  • Dairy cattle moving interstate must adhere to conditions specified by APHIS.
  • These steps will be immediately required for lactating dairy cattle. Requirements for other classes of dairy cattle will be based on scientific factors concerning the virus and its evolving risk profile.

Mandatory Reporting

  • Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive Influenza A nucleic acid detection diagnostic results (e.g. PCR or genetic sequencing) in livestock to USDA APHIS.
  • Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive Influenza A serology diagnostic results in livestock to USDA APHIS.

Alabama Farmers Federation Commodity Director Colton Christjohn said Alabama farmers should be aware of the Federal Order but understand there have been no confirmed livestock cases of Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza in the state. 

“We want to be ready to take action if needed,” said Christjohn who leads the dairy, pork and poultry divisions at the Federation. “The Federation is continuing to work with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries to monitor this issue.”

The movement of H5N1 between wild birds and dairy cows requires further testing and time to develop a critical understanding to support any future courses of action. This Federal Order is critical to increasing the information available for USDA. Requiring positive test reporting will help USDA better under this disease and testing before interstate movement will limit its spread, according to a USDA release. 

USDA reports no found changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible to humans and between people. While cases among humans in direct contact with infected animals are possible, the CDC believes the current risk to the public remains low.

Affected cows continue to recover after supported care with little to no associated mortality. The UDSA is continuing its work with partners in the states and industry to emphasize the critical importance biosecurity plays in limiting disease spread for all livestock and poultry.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an update on the ongoing work to ensure continued effectiveness of the federal-state milk safety system.

“One of the most important things for consumers to understand is the commercial milk supply is safe,” Christjohn said. “USDA requires the destruction of milk from sick cows. The pasteurization process also eliminates inactive bacteria and viruses in milk.”

Read the full article from the USDA here.

View USDA updates here.

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