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Testing for Safety

Starting April 29th, new federal guidelines go into place to try to prevent the spread of the latest challenge for ranchers and farmland owners. The USDA is requiring that dairy cattle get tested to make sure that they aren’t already infected with the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza.

RELATED: USDA announced that it has allocated $263 million to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to help fight the virus. Meat + Poultry has the details in this article. 

The outbreak has infected at least 33 dairy herds in eight states, according to the USDA. Texas had the first confirmed case on March 25th.

Unlike poultry, dairy cattle can recover from avian flu infection. But the sickness can lessen appetite and decrease milk production, according to animal specialists.

Here are the guidelines regarding required testing for dairy cattle before interstate travel:

Mandatory Testing for Interstate Movement of Dairy Cattle

  • Prior to interstate movement, dairy cattle are required to receive a negative test for Influenza A virus at an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratory.

  • Owners of herds in which dairy cattle test positive for interstate movement will be required to provide epidemiological information, including animal movement tracing.

  • Dairy cattle moving interstate must adhere to conditions specified by APHIS.

  • As will be described in forthcoming guidance, these steps will be immediately required for lactating dairy cattle, while these requirements for other classes of dairy cattle will be based on scientific factors concerning the virus and its evolving risk profile.


This USDA map shows the spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in dairy cattle over the first month since the USDA confirmed the initial case.


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