Ohio Dairy Tests Positive for Bird Flu; Third State Linked to Texas Farms

April 3, 2024

Ohio becomes the sixth state where dairy cattle have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, as the Ohio Department of Agriculture reported on Wednesday that it has received a presumptive positive test result.

The dairy operation in Wood County received cows on March 8, 2024, from a Texas dairy that later reported a confirmed detection of HPAI.

"Ohio's animal health officials were notified when the livestock began showing clinical signs compatible with sick, lactating dairy cows in other states," Ohio officials said in a news release.

So far, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed HPAI in dairy herds in Texas, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico and Idaho. USDA confirmed the positive test from Idaho on Tuesday.

If the test in Ohio is confirmed, it would be the third state including Michigan and Idaho to have reported that those dairies received dairy cows from Texas farms.

"Federal and state agencies continue to conduct additional testing from sick animals and in unpasteurized clinical milk samples from sick animals, as well as viral genome sequencing, to assess whether HPAI or another unrelated illness may be underlying any symptoms," the Ohio Department of Agriculture said on Wednesday.

"Clinically sick dairy cattle from affected herds range from 1% to 20%, with an average of 10% of the milking herd affected. There are no confirmed reports of death loss in dairy cattle directly attributed to these detections. Most sick cows begin recovering within a few days."

Also on Tuesday, Cal-Maine Foods Inc., based in Ridgeland, Mississippi, reported it had culled about 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or about 3.6% of the company's total flock as of March 2, after facilities in Parmer County, Texas, tested positive for HPAI.

"Production at the facility has temporarily ceased as the company follows the protocols prescribed by USDA," according to a Cal-Maine news release. "Cal-Maine Foods is working to secure production from other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers."

As these cases have cropped up, state and federal officials have stressed there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply. Milk from sick cows is not permitted to be shipped for consumption. Further, pasteurization inactivated bacteria and viruses.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, has also confirmed that the strain of the virus found in Michigan is very similar to the strain confirmed in Texas and Kansas that appears to have been introduced by wild birds -- H5N1, Eurasian lineage goose/Guangdong clade

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission reported on Monday that a person in Texas in contact with dairy cows infected with a strain of HPAI now has become ill with the virus. Read more about that here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

For more on the effects the virus is having on dairy cattle and on the dairy market, see "Avian Influenza on Dairy Farms Leads to More Questions -- UPDATE" here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Source: DTN