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HPAI Update in Dairy Cattle and New Biosecurity Recommendations

This post is from an update written by Dr. Rob Lynch of Cornell PRO-DAIRY and contains information from the CDC of the status of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus in dairy cattle, as well as new biosecurity recommendations from the USDA, AABP, NMPF, and NYS Ag & Markets.

Additional details and resources for how to manage this evolving situation can be found here:Dairy Biosecurity Recommendations-HPAI-more_March2024_FINAL

As you are likely aware, the dairy cow health situation that started in the Texas panhandle now has Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) identified as the cause, or at least playing a significant role. Below is a case description of affected cows on those dairies, news from Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) regarding the diagnosis of HPAI in a dairy worker from one of the affected herds, and some new biosecurity recommendations from American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), and NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Confirmed States with HPAI in Dairy Cattle: Texas, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, and Idaho have confirmed cases of HPAI in dairy cattle. A case in Ohio is presumptive positive, but awaiting confirmation). Additional diagnostics are ongoing. Wild migrating birds are believed to spread the virus, but cow-to-cow transmission cannot be ruled out.

Clinical Presentation: Farms with cattle experiencing this illness describe cows dropping in feed intake and rumen activity/rumination, rapid drop in milk production (some with milk taking on the appearance of colostrum), and abnormal manure (either firm/tacky or diarrhea). Other less consistent clinical signs include fever (low grade to high), and secondary infections. It has been reported that about 10 percent of cows affected on farm with these cases. Peak occurrence is about three to four days after the first case, and then decreasing in number until it resolves in about 14 days. Virtually all affected cows recover with supportive care after about two to three weeks, although some did not return to their previous production level. Affected animals are predominantly older mid- and late-lactation cows.

HPAI in a human patient: CDC has confirmed HPAI in one person person who was exposed to cattle on a Texas dairy presumed infected with HPAI. Symptoms are reported as mild, and the person was prescribed an antiviral medication and is isolating. This is the second patient to be diagnosed with HPAI in the US; the first occurred in 2022.

Heightened Biosecurity Recommendations: There is not a clear explanation of all the ways this virus is spread to dairy cattle, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture, NMPF, AABP, and NYS Ag & Markets are recommendingheightened biosecurity measures. In addition to standard biosecurity steps, it is recommended that dairy farms do the following:

  1. Pause or cancel non-essential on farm visits.
  2. Assign a Biosecurity Manager to monitor the changing situation, develop a farm specific biosecurity plan with the herd’s veterinarian, and oversee its implementation.
  3. Promptly notify their veterinarian if cows exhibiting the above clinical presentation are identified.
  4. Report findings of odd behaviors or increased numbers of dead wild birds, cats, skunks, or raccoons to animal health officials.
  5. Extra precautions should be taken by care givers and veterinarians caring for cattle with clinical signs matching the case description.
  6. Avoid importing cattle from affected farms, or presumed affected farms.
  7. Discourage wild bird entry to barns, waterers, and feed sources.
  8. Clean and disinfect cattle waterers daily as they can be a source of wild bird contamination.
  9. It recommended to feed only heat-treated colostrum and pasteurized milk and milk products to calves.

Additional details and resources for how to manage this evolving situation can be found here: Dairy Biosecurity Recommendations-HPAI-more_March2024_FINAL

Rob Lynch, DVM (

Cornell PRO-DAIRY Dairy Herd Health and Management Specialist



Janice Beglinger
Agriculture Outreach Coordinator
585-343-3040 x132

Last updated April 4, 2024