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Avian Flu hits US dairy - Idaho and beyond


The recent confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in an Idaho dairy herd by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) marks a concerning development in the agricultural sector. This incident, the first of its kind in Idaho, adds to existing cases in Texas, Kansas, Michigan, and New Mexico, bringing the total to 12 affected herds in five states. 

HPAI, a disease more commonly associated with poultry, has shown its capacity to impact cattle, with varying clinical signs observed. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) is conducting thorough confirmatory tests to better understand the disease's spread and implications. 

The USDA, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is actively investigating the outbreak. These efforts include testing in animals and unpasteurized milk, and viral genome sequencing, aiming to safeguard public health and the dairy supply.

Despite the unsettling news, the risk to public health remains low, reassured by the effective measures in place for processing dairy products. Pasteurization, a mandatory step for milk entering interstate commerce, effectively inactivates harmful pathogens, ensuring the safety of the commercial milk supply.

Amid this outbreak, the FDA advises against the sale of raw or unpasteurized milk products from affected cattle, emphasizing the importance of biosecurity measures and prompt illness reporting by producers and veterinarians. This guidance aims to prevent the disease's spread and protect both consumer health and the dairy industry.

As the situation unfolds, federal and state agencies continue to monitor and respond to the HPAI outbreak, maintaining a commitment to public and animal health. The incident underscores the interconnectedness of wildlife, livestock, and human health, highlighting the need for vigilance and cooperation across all sectors.

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