Iowa, Minnesota report H5N1 in dairy herds

Presence of the virus in dairy cattle has now been confirmed in 11 U.S. states.

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The presence of H5N1 has been confirmed in dairy cattle located in O’Brien County, Iowa, and Benton County, Minnesota. Detections of the virus in dairy cattle have occurred in nine other states.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship reported the Iowa case on June 5, the same day that Minnesota confirmed its case. This is the first time H5N1 has been detected in dairy cows in either state.

“Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa. While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry. Our team at the Department has been preparing for this possibility and will soon be announcing additional response steps to protect our flocks and herds,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

“Poultry producers and dairy farmers should immediately take steps to harden their biosecurity defenses, limit unnecessary visitors, and report symptomatic birds or cattle to the Department. This remains an evolving situation and we will continue to be in close communication with stakeholders, USDA, and other states as we evaluate our response. Our top priority is to protect our livestock and the farmers and people who care for them.” 

Minnesota state veterinarian, Dr. Brian Hoefs, added: “We knew it was only a matter of time before this detection would reach our doorstep."

“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.”

Genomic sequencing conducted by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, confirmed that the HPAI strain affecting over 4 million commercial layer hens in Sioux County is consistent with the variant infecting dairies in other states. Officials are still waiting for the sequencing results for the dairy cattle in O’Brien County and commercial turkeys in Cherokee County.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently asked local jurisdictions to step up personal protective equipment dispersal to workers on dairy and poultry farms and slaughterhouses in response to recent outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry and dairy cattle.

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