Avian Influenza Found in Wyoming Dairy Herd

June 10, 2024

The list of states reporting highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy herds has grown to a dozen with Friday's announcement by Wyoming of a detection there.

The state became the third in three days to announce new detections of the virus; Minnesota made an announcement Thursday and Iowa the day before that. Testing has confirmed the presence of HPAI in more than 80 herds throughout the country.

"The detection was first identified in samples received by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory," the Wyoming Livestock Board and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture said. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's National Veterinary Services Laboratories then confirmed it.

The livestock board “encourages all dairy producers to closely monitor their herd and contact their herd veterinarian immediately if their cattle appear symptomatic,” said Wyoming State Veterinarian Hallie Hasel. “The primary concern with this diagnosis is on-dairy production losses, as the disease has been associated with decreased milk production. The risk to cattle is minimal and the risk to human health remains very low.”

Doug Miyamoto, director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, highlighted assurances from USDA and federal health agencies that "pasteurization kills bacteria and viruses, like influenza, and that these milk and dairy products are safe to consume.”

In other news regarding the virus, the Food and Drug Administration asked states on Thursday to warn consumers of the risks of consuming raw milk.

States that allow the sale of raw milk should "use regulatory authorities or implement other measures, as appropriate, to stop the sale of raw milk that may present a risk to consumers," FDA said in a letter.

"This may include restricting the introduction of raw milk that may contain viable HPAI H5N1, for human or animal consumption, within a defined geographic area, or within your state. If HPAI H5N1 virus is identified within a herd, there is a risk that viable HPAI H5N1 virus could be present in raw milk from the herd, even when clinically ill cows are segregated."

States also should "distribute messaging to the public about the health risks of consuming raw milk and raw milk products. Health risks include illness, miscarriages, stillbirths, kidney failure and death."

"Based on the limited research and information available, we do not know at this time if the HPAI H5N1 virus can be transmitted to humans through consumption of raw milk and products made from raw milk from infected cows," FDA said. "However, exposures on affected farms are associated with three documented cases of H5N1 illness in dairy workers."