April 25, 2024 - 10:19am -- smith.263@osu.edu

Frequently over recent months you may have heard of the current outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in domestic poultry, H5N1. This disease has been occurring since 2022 and has been reported in 48 states, affecting nearly 100 million domestic birds.

On March 20, 2024 the Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported that a juvenile goat on a Minnesota farm tested positive for HPAI. This marked the first U.S. case of the virus in a domestic ruminant.

The following week on Monday, March 25, 2024 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a statement confirming the identification of HPAI (now called Bovine Influenza A Virus) in dairy cattle located in Texas and Kansas. Shortly after, the USDA confirmed the detection of HPAI in a total of seven dairy herds in Texas, two in Kansas, one in Michigan, one in New Mexico, one in Idaho, and one in Northern Ohio. On April 1, the CDC reported one person in Texas who had been in contact with affected cattle tested positive for HPAI. The next week North Carolina became the seventh state to officially confirm the presence of HPAI in a dairy herd.

These findings are significant because while the spring and fall migrations of wild birds are definitely a higher risk HPAI transmission period for poultry, it highlights the possibility of the virus infecting other animals on farms with multiple species. While it’s rare that the HPAI virus spills over to mammals, including humans, and the risk remains very low for human illness it’s important to employ biosecurity practices that reduce the risk of introducing any disease, including HPAI, to animals and humans alike. To accomplish that, be diligent with biosecurity by:

  • Upon receiving new animals or when you return from a show or other contact with other animals, isolate your show animals to avoid the possibility of infecting other animals on your farm.
  • Watch your animals closely for at least two weeks after any outside exposure to observe any signs of developing disease. Diseases are more easily treated if caught early
  • If you don’t have your own truck or trailer to haul your animals, make sure that the equipment used to haul your animals is clean and recently disinfected.
  • Avoid sharing of grooming equipment and feed and water containers with friends or neighbors. If you do, clean and disinfect it when it is returned.
  • Discourage farm, fair or exhibition visitors from petting or feeding your animals. People going from animal-to-animal can spread disease as they go.
  • Much like you did during the COVID-19 pandemic, practice good personal hygiene. Animals can be a source of germs that can cause problems in people. Not only is HPAI a concern but additional examples are ringworm, certain E. coli, salmonella, cryptosporidia and some types of staph and strep that can cause skin or wound infections in people. Likewise, we can be a method of transmission of disease between animals. Wash with soap and water after handling your animals and put on clean clothes. Keep your boots and shoes clean and don’t carry barn muck into the house.

Biosecurity for Youth Livestock Exhibitors, https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/vme-7
Avian Influenza Detected in Dairy Cattle, https://u.osu.edu/beef/2024/04/03/avian-influenza-detected-in-dairy-cattle/
Everyday Biosecurity Recommendations for Dairy and Beef Cattle Farm Personnel

 Stan Smith, PA, OSU Extension, Fairfield County