Iowa farmers encouraged to remain vigilant against threat of HPAI

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today provided an update on the continually evolving situation regarding the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle and poultry flocks in other states, strongly encouraged both dairy farmers and poultry producers to heighten their biosecurity protocols and practices, and reminded consumers that pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe to enjoy.

“Through our daily communications with federal partners and colleagues in other states, as well as with Iowa State University and industry stakeholders, we continue to seek and learn new information about this developing and evolving situation with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “There are still many questions that are not yet fully answered, so we will remain closely engaged as we carefully evaluate our response to these changing dynamics. Consumers can feel confident that pasteurized milk and dairy products and properly prepared poultry continue to be safe to enjoy.”

As of Friday, April 12, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is not aware of any cases of HPAI in dairy cattle or poultry in Iowa. Other states, including Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, and South Dakota have all reported cases in recent days or weeks. Several states have recently reported cases of HPAI in commercial or backyard poultry. Iowa’s last case in a commercial poultry flock was reported on Nov. 23, 2023. Iowa’s last case in a backyard poultry flock was reported on Dec. 19, 2023. Though a recent case of HPAI was confirmed in a dairy work in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to believe the threat to humans remains low.

Heightened Biosecurity Protocols and Practices

With spring migration in full swing, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is strongly reminding Iowa poultry producers and dairy farmers to bolster their biosecurity practices and protocols to protect their flocks and herds. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has biosecurity recommendations for dairy herds to utilize. In addition, the Department has numerous other biosecurity resources for poultry producers and livestock farms to reference on its website.

“Heightened biosecurity on both poultry and cattle farms is critically important to keeping our livestock healthy. We would strongly recommend farmers work with their veterinarian and have a very good understanding of the health status of any herd that they are receiving any cattle from,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand. “Veterinarians, poultry producers with sick birds or dairy farmers seeing unusual or suspicious illnesses should report them to the Department at 515-281-5305.”

Report Sick Cattle and Sick Birds

We are strongly encouraging industry partners, farmers and veterinarians to report cattle illnesses quickly to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at 515-281-5305 so that we can monitor any potential cases. The list of symptoms in dairy cattle and poultry can be found on the Department’s website.

Food Safety

It is a longstanding practice that only milk from healthy animals may enter the food supply. The pasteurization process of heating milk to a high temperature ensures milk and dairy products can be safely enjoyed. There is no concern about the safety of pasteurized milk or dairy products. Pasteurization has continually proven to successfully inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk. It also remains safe to eat poultry products. As a reminder, consumers should always utilize the proper handling and cooking of eggs and poultry products, including cooking to an internal temperature of 165˚F.

For additional information on HPAI, visit the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website.

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