Cattle producers are cautiously watching the situation unfold regarding dairy cattle being infected with avian influenza. According to Brownfield Ag News, the virus has been detected in dairy cows in nine states, including neighboring Kansas. Missouri has avoided infection in its herds, for now.

Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn said that it’s a misnomer to label it “bird flu” because of the “unknown fear” that it can cause.

“If you (search) avian influenza, it takes you exactly to the H5N1 virus and you can learn more,” she said. “You can see all of the symptoms, all of the CDC information about it that we’ve only had two human cases since 2022 in the United States with this latest outbreak.”

People who work with poultry and livestock are most at risk of contracting the virus, but Chinn said there is nothing to be concerned with.

“For cattle to enter the state, we require health certificates,” she explained. “We’ve always done that in the state of Missouri, so we know exactly where our cattle are coming into Missouri from. Most farmers, when they receive new animals to their farms do a 30-day quarantine, so they never have contact with the rest of their herd.”

Avian influenza is widespread in wild birds and has caused outbreaks in poultry and dairy cows with one recent human case of a dairy worker in Texas. Chinn explained what the protocols would be if the disease hits the Show-Me State.

“So, what we do know is that when it ends up in dairy cattle, they get ill for a few days, but they completely recover,” Chinn said. “Anytime a dairy cow is sick, they get isolated from the herd. Their milk does not enter into the food supply chain. That is really what we know. Those are the facts that we know at this time.”

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is recommending that farmers strengthen their biosecurity to minimize the risk of infectious diseases and protect both animals and humans.

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