Farmers Encouraged to Take Steps to Minimise Exposure of Farm Animals to Migrating Birds

Farmscape for May 17, 2024

A veterinary pathologist with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is encouraging farmers to take steps to minimize the potential exposure of farm animals to migrating birds.
In March USDA reported Influenza A type H5N1 virus, or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, was detected in milk and in dairy cattle in Texas and Kansas and since, detections have been confirmed in dairy herds in other states, in baby goats and one dairy farm worker has tested positive for the virus.
Dr. Susan Detmer, an associate professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says most H5N1s are classified as low path and they have sporadically gone from avian to humans and there were signs a year ago that this high path strain was showing signs of adapting to infect mammals and it did, showing up in dairy cattle.

Quote-Dr. Susan Detmer-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
The birds that are typically the most suspectable, that we're most concerned about getting it are going to be chickens.
As far as other species of animals, quite frankly the dairy cattle that have been infected with this new mammalian susceptible H5N1 that we're seeing, the dairy cattle are recovering.
They are having initially a huge drop in milk production but those animals are recovering.
As far as humans that are in contact with the infected cattle, right now they're looking at those humans and testing for antibodies and we'll have a lot more information in the next six months about the humans that have been in contact with those dairy cattle.
So far there have not been reports of people becoming severely sick from being in contact with dairy cattle but we don't have human infections to report on that yet and we have, as of yet, not had other species that we've been able to see what kind of effects there have been.

Dr. Detmer says the strain that has impacted U.S. dairy cattle is being brought under control but if, it's present in migrating birds returning to Canada, our farm animals could be exposed.
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Bruce Cochrane.

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