Jersey cattle

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

Help fight the spread of HPAI

April 18, 2024 | Kriss Nelson

Although there have been no known cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle or poultry flocks in Iowa, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) is asking dairy farmers and poultry producers to remain vigilant against the threat of the disease.

According to IDALS, as of Friday, they are not aware of any cases of HPAI in dairy cattle or poultry in Iowa. However, other states, including Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and South Dakota have all reported HPAI cases in recent days or weeks.

Though a recent case of HPAI was confirmed in a dairy worker in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control continues to believe the threat to humans remains low.

Kevin Stiles, the Executive Director of the Iowa Poultry Association, says crop farmers can help mitigate the spread of HPAI.

“If you happen to find a dead or sick waterfowl on your farm, we ask you to report it so it can be tested for HPAI,” he says. “Beyond that, communicate with your neighbors who are poultry farmers or have an egg-producing operation to discuss their concerns.”

One possible solution to help slow the spread of the disease is being mindful of conditions during fieldwork.

“Tilling the ground, or anything that is getting a lot of dirt and dust in the air that can be moved, if you have the option or flexibility, wait for better conditions,” says Stiles. “These could be areas where wild birds have rested, and you could be stirring up their feces that could be potentially moved through dust particles in the air to nearby poultry operations.”

Several states are reporting recent cases of HPAI, whereas Iowa’s last case in a commercial flock was reported last November.

“It is peak migration time, and it will continue to be migration season for a couple of months,” says Stiles. “Producers are on high alert, doing whatever they can to live by the best biosecurity practices they have available.”

A lot of lessons were learned from the HPAI outbreak in 2015.

“We have a better understanding of those biosecurity practices. In most cases, HPAI has been introduced by wild birds, not spread from farm to farm,” he says.

Report sick cattle and sick birds

IDALS encourages industry partners, farmers and veterinarians to report illness in cattle and birds immediately to 515-281-5305. The list of symptoms in dairy cattle and poultry can be found on the IDAL's website.