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Idaho dairy Industry faces new challenges as Bird Flu spreads to cows

USA 25.06.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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Idaho's dairy industry is confronting unprecedented challenges as the bird flu virus, traditionally affecting poultry and waterfowl, has now spread to cows. Since the first U.S. case was reported in Texas in March, the H5N1 strain has reached 12 states, including Idaho, posing a significant threat to the state's multi-billion-dollar dairy sector, according to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.
Idaho dairy Industry faces new challenges as Bird Flu spreads to cows

The outbreak originated when Cassia County dairy cows were exposed to infected cattle imported from Texas. Subsequently, the virus has infiltrated at least 21 dairy operations across Idaho, despite many having no prior exposure to out-of-state cattle, reported the Department of Agriculture.

Public health officials and the Dairymen's Association are actively working to mitigate the spread of H5N1 among dairy farms, emphasizing protective measures for workers and stringent infection control protocols. However, the economic impact on dairy farms has been severe, with potential losses of up to 20% in milk production for affected dairies over a month, according to industry estimates.

Dairy farmers in Idaho, wary of regulatory scrutiny and delayed compensation promises from the USDA, are cautious about disclosing cases and granting extensive access to their operations. While the USDA is mandated to reimburse 90% of lost milk production due to H5N1, applications for compensation have yet to materialize, prolonging financial uncertainties for affected dairy farms.

In response to the crisis, Idaho's health and agriculture authorities are collaborating to provide protective gear and medical support to dairy workers. Despite Idaho's comparatively lenient regulatory stance, efforts to enhance biosecurity measures and monitor virus transmission pathways are underway, including innovative wastewater testing to track virus presence in communities.

While no human cases have been reported in Idaho, public health officials remain vigilant, offering antiviral treatments to potentially exposed workers and monitoring for any signs of transmission. With ongoing investigations into virus transmission among cattle, Idaho remains proactive in refining its containment strategies to safeguard both dairy operations and public health.

For Idaho's dairy industry, navigating the complexities of the bird flu outbreak underscores the critical need for proactive measures and collaborative efforts to mitigate risks and protect livelihoods amid evolving challenges.


Also we wrote Bird Flu Detected in Dairy Cattle in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wyoming

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