Feds incentivize better biosecurity at dairy farms for bird flu •

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced it will pay dairy farms with confirmed avian influenza infections to help contain the virus’ spread to people and more cows.

Federal funding is now available to cover the costs of enhanced biosecurity measures, protective equipment for workers, heat treatments for tainted milk, and veterinary and testing fees. The precautions are optional.

The virus was first identified in a Texas farm in March and has since been discovered in 41 others in a total of nine states, according to USDA data.

Wild birds are believed to be the initial source of infection, but there is evidence the virus is transmitting cow-to-cow. A dairy farm worker in Texas who was in close contact with infected cattle was also sickened but recovered.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza spreads quickly in poultry flocks and is often deadly to the birds. Sick cows typically recover over the course of 10 to 14 days, but they shed large amounts of the virus in their milk.

That led the USDA in April to prohibit the transport of most lactating dairy cattle across state lines unless testing shows they are not infected.

The movement of infected cows to other states is believed to be responsible for much of the virus’ spread. It has also been found in dairy farms in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and South Dakota.

The new federal funding provides:

— Up to $2,000 per month per site for personal protective equipment and uniform laundering for workers.

— Up to $8,000 per producer for heat treatment of milk from sick cows to inactivate the virus before disposal.

— Up to $10,000 per site for veterinary fees and sample collection for testing.

— Up to $1,500 per site to develop biosecurity plans and for training.

The USDA can also compensate dairy farms for their milk losses and states for their efforts to restrict movement of infected cattle locally.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food & Drug Administration are also increasing testing to better understand the virus and the public health risks it poses.

The CDC has said the risk is low to humans. The FDA has found fragments of the virus in the nation’s milk supply — despite a requirement to discard milk from sick cows — but the agency has determined that pasteurization neutralizes its threat.

This story first ran in the Advance‘s sister outlet, the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

authored by Jared Strong
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F05%2F15%2Ffeds-incentivize-better-biosecurity-at-dairy-farms-for-bird-flu%2F

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