First Detection of Avian Influenza in Kansas Dairy Farms: Public Risk Minimal, Milk Supply Safe

By Trish Svoboda

The Kansas Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), has detected the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in two commercial dairy farms. These instances mark the first occurrence of HPAI in Kansas’ commercial dairy sector. Preliminary tests conducted by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories have not revealed any alterations in the virus that would suggest transmission from mammal to mammal, implying that the public risk continues to be minimal.

The commercial milk supply is safe for consumption, thanks to the pasteurization process that deactivates harmful bacteria and viruses. The CDC affirms this safety and advises against consuming unpasteurized milk. Dairies are required to source milk only from healthy animals.

It is strongly recommended for dairy farmers to monitor their cattle and immediately get in touch with their local vet if any signs of infection are observed. The symptoms, which primarily affect cows in the late lactation stage, include a decrease in milk yield, reduced appetite, and alterations in the texture of their feces. Additionally, it is suggested that dairy farmers limit the exposure of their cattle’s food and water supplies to wildlife.

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