Bovine Influenza A Virus: AABP Renames Emerging Cattle Disease Linked to Avian Influenza

By Trish Svoboda

In a letter, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) announced that, following collaboration with veterinarians, allied organizations, state and federal agencies, diagnostic laboratories, and animal health officials, they will now refer to the emerging cattle disease linked to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) as Bovine Influenza A Virus (BIAV).

This decision comes after identifying the virus as avian influenza virus Type A H5N1, which typically causes HPAI in birds. However, in cattle, the disease does not exhibit high morbidity or mortality rates as seen in birds. Therefore, the AABP does not advocate using terms such as ‘HPAI in cattle’ or ‘bird flu in cattle’ due to these observed differences, as stated by AABP Executive Director Fred Gingrich, DVM, and President Michael Capel, DVM.

The AABP announced its decision to refer to the disease as BIAV in all its communications and materials. In addition, the organization urged other entities to adopt the same terminology to ensure consistency in differentiating the disease between species.

Both federal and state agencies are conducting further examinations, including testing on sick animals and unpasteurized clinical milk samples, as well as viral genome sequencing, to determine whether HPAI or any other unrelated illness might be causing the observed symptoms. Among clinically affected dairy cattle from the affected herds, the range of sickness varies from 1% to 20%, with an average of 10% of the milking herd being affected. However, there have been no confirmed reports of deaths directly attributed to these BIAV detections in dairy cattle. Most sick cows show signs of recovery within a few days.

Farmers and veterinarians are being encouraged to report any cattle illnesses to monitor for potential additional cases and mitigate the impact and risk to farmers, farmworkers, consumers, and other animals.

As of now, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of BIAV in dairy herds across several states including Kansas, Texas, Michigan, New Mexico, Idaho, and Ohio

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