Federal order requires testing for, reporting of HPAI in livestock 

Cattle import restrictions are in place in 17 states due to confirmed positives of highly pathogenic avian influenza in some dairy herds. (Journal photo by Kylene Scott.)

On April 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a federal order to help prevent spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. It takes effect April 29 and requires mandatory testing for interstate movement of dairy cattle. 

The order, issued in accordance with the regulatory authority provided by the Animal Health Protection Act, as amended, 7 U.S.C. § 8301 et seq. Section 8305, authorizes the secretary of agriculture to prohibit or restrict the movement in interstate commerce of any animal, article or means of conveyance if the secretary determines that the prohibition or restriction is necessary to prevent the introduction of any pest or disease of livestock into the United States or the dissemination of any pest or disease of livestock within the U.S.  

According to the release, Section 8308 authorizes the secretary of agriculture to carry out operations and measures to detect, control or eradicate any pest or disease of livestock. Section 8315 authorizes the secretary of agriculture to issue orders as he determines necessary to carry out the Animal Health Protection Act. Should this order be deemed a substantive rule, APHIS has determined that good cause exists to impose these requirements without notice and comment, as further delay would threaten to hasten the spread of the disease, multiplying the potential harm to livestock, poultry, the dairy industry and, potentially, human health. 

The order requires the following measures, effective April 29, to monitor and understand the virus’ extent and reduce the risk to poultry and other livestock.  

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 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. 

Mandatory reporting: 

—Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive Influenza A nucleic acid detection diagnostic results (e.g. PCR or genetic sequencing) in livestock to USDA APHIS. 

—Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive Influenza A serology diagnostic results in livestock to USDA APHIS. 

About HPAI 

HPAI is most often found in domestic poultry and wild birds, and the contagious viral disease is deadly to those segments and can wipe out entire flocks quickly. APHIS said HPAI is a threat to the poultry industry, animal health, human health, trade and the economy worldwide. In the United States, HPAI has now been detected in dairy cattle. 

On Feb. 8, 2022, the USDA confirmed HPAI H5N1virus in a commercial poultry flock in the United States. Since February 2022, agencies have responded to more than 1,100 HPAI detections on poultry farms to mitigate the virus’ impact on U.S. poultry production and trade. 

Since late March 2024, the USDA, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state veterinary and public health officials and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network laboratories have been investigating the emergence of the HPAI, H5N1 virus in dairy cows.  

As of April 24, confirmed cases of HPAI H5N1 clade have been found in 8 states on 33 dairy cattle premises. Those states include Kansas, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas. USDA has also confirmed—based on specific phylogenetic evidence and epidemiological information—that eight poultry premises in five states (Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas) have also been infected with the same HPAI H5N1virus genotype detected in dairy cattle. Additionally, APHIS’ National Veterinary Services Laboratories found HPAI in a lung tissue sample from an asymptomatic cull dairy cow that originated from an affected herd and which did not enter the food supply. 

HPAI has already been recognized as a threat by USDA, and the interstate movement of animals infected with HPAI is already prohibited. See 9 C.F.R. 71.3(b). However, the detection of this new distinct HPAI H5N1 virus genotype in dairy cattle poses a new animal disease risk for dairy cattle—as well as an additional disease risk to domestic poultry farms—since this genotype can infect both cattle and poultry. 

For more information regarding this federal order, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-detections/livestock

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected]

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