Bird Flu Makes the Leap to Dairy Cows: everything you need to know.

Bird Flu Makes the Leap to Dairy Cows: everything you need to know.
Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has recently taken an unsettling turn by jumping from wild birds to poultry farms and now to dairy cows in the United States. This development raises concerns for both animal and public health, and as dairy cow farmers, you should be well-informed about the situation.

Here's what you need to know:

  • The H5N1 strain of avian influenza is the culprit behind this outbreak. It has been spreading rapidly among wild birds and has now infected dairy cattle in several states.

  • Public health officials are concerned about the virus's potential to mutate and spread from cows to humans. While there have been two human cases reported so far, both likely resulted from contact with infected poultry, not dairy cows.

  • Pasteurized milk remains safe for consumption. Pasteurization effectively eliminates any potential avian influenza virus contamination.

  • Caution is advised when handling raw milk. Since raw milk doesn't go through the pasteurization process, it's crucial to avoid consuming or handling raw milk from potentially infected cows.

Protecting your dairy cows:

  • Report any signs of illness. If your cows exhibit any signs of illness or unusual behavior, report it to your veterinarian immediately. Early detection and intervention are crucial for containing the spread of the virus.

    • Unusual lethargy or weakness
    • Lack of appetite
    • Respiratory problems, like coughing or difficulty breathing
    • Swelling or discoloration of the head, eyelids, or wattles (fleshy bits near the muzzle)
    • Diarrhea
    • Sudden death

For more symptoms of avian flu in your cattle, check out this link: https://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/thelivestockproject/avian-influenza-in-dairy-cows-what-organic-and-alternative-producers-need-to-know/

The avian flu outbreak in dairy cows is a cause for concern, but by staying informed and implementing proper biosecurity measures, you can help protect your herd and ensure the continued safety of the US dairy industry.

By working together, we can effectively manage this situation and safeguard the health of our dairy cows.

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