Animal Health Alerts

April 10, 2024 - Recent test results have identified the illness affecting older dairy cows in several states as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Among the dairies whose herds are exhibiting symptoms, the majority of affected animals have recovered after isolation. This strain of the virus appears to have been initially introduced to these dairy herds through exposure to infected wild birds.

Although there have been no reported detections of HPAI in cattle in Tennessee, our Animal Health Division is closely monitoring the situation, collaborating with industry and federal partners, and working with veterinarians in Tennessee to collect reports of illness in cattle. Additionally, the State Veterinarian has ordered a movement restriction on dairy cattle coming to Tennessee from the affected premises.

Pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe to consume due to routine testing and established protocols. Out of an abundance of caution, milk from sick cows is never allowed to enter the food supply.

The Centers for Disease Control also report that a person in Texas has tested positive for HPAI A (H5N1) virus after exposure to an affected dairy herd. The patient reported eye redness as their only symptom and they are recovering. This incident does not change the H5N1 bird flu human health risk assessment for the U.S. general public, which CDC considers to be low.

Cattle owners are advised to practice strong biosecurity:
- Quarantine new animals for at least two weeks before introducing them to an established herd.
- Test animals before necessary movements.
- Minimize animal movements.
- Isolate sick cattle from the herd.

Cattle owners should also watch for clinical signs of illness including:
- Decreased herd-level milk production
- Acute sudden drop in milk production
- Decreased feed consumption/appetite
- Abnormal feces and some fever

If cattle within your herd are showing signs of illness, please report these signs immediately to your local veterinarian, to the State Veterinarian’s Office at (615) 837-5120, or USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at 1-866-536-7593.