New influenza testing rule for dairy cows going to Minnesota fairs

Published 6:36 am Friday, June 14, 2024

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By Dan Gunderson

Dairy cows headed to a county fair this summer will need at an influenza test.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health now requires a negative test for the H5N1 virus before a lactating dairy cow can attend any exhibition for “display or judging.”

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The H5N1 virus is common in wild birds and infections have led to the deaths of millions of chickens and turkeys in the past two years.

The virus recently has been found in dairy cattle in several states, including a Minnesota farm earlier this month.

“While H5N1 influenza in dairy cases are still being studied across the country, initial insights show milk and the udders are a hotspot for influenza virus on infected cows, which makes showing lactating dairy at events a higher risk,” said Katie Cornille, senior veterinarian of Cattle Programs at the Board of Animal Health.

Requiring a negative test before an exhibition will reduce the risk, Cornille said.

Any cows that test positive will be quarantined for 30 days. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has dairy cattle testing requirements in place.

Dairy cows must have a negative H5N1 test before they can be moved across state lines. Health officials say there is currently little risk to humans from the virus.

Pasteurized dairy products remain safe to consume, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recommends people who work with sick or potentially infected animals wear personal protective equipment. Officials have reported cases in Michigan and Texas where humans were infected.