Alert Issued for Avian Influenza in Dairy Animals near Canada’s Borders

Dairy Animals

An increasing outbreak of avian flu in U.S. dairy cattle has prompted the Canadian government to increase its surveillance program. According to a statement from Canada’s health authority, pasteurized milk marketed in the US has fragments of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). As a result, any nursing dairy animals imported from the US will now need to undergo negative testing.

Enhanced testing of milk at the retail level will be carried out by officials in an effort to find viral particles. As part of increased industry biosecurity efforts, cows that are not exhibiting clinical indications of HPAI will also have the option to voluntarily test.

About 20% of milk samples nationwide tested positive for avian flu particles last week, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the Canadian statement, pasteurization of dairy products effectively inactivates the virus that causes HPAI, even when remnants of the virus survive. Commercially produced milk and milk products are still safe to ingest. Prompt action will be taken by officials to safeguard Canada’s food supply and animals in the event that they become aware of any possible concerns to food safety or animal health.

“While the risk of transmission to humans remains low, the Government of Canada, the provinces and territories, as well as our colleagues in the United States, are working together to actively monitor, prepare and respond as necessary to this evolving situation to help safeguard Canada’s cattle and protect the health of people in Canada,” the statement said.

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