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Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in livestock

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has detected highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in unpasteurized milk from sick dairy cattle in some areas of the United States.

HPAI has not been detected in dairy cattle or other livestock in Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is monitoring the situation closely. We will update this page as soon as new information becomes available.

HPAI is not a food safety concern and the risk of transmission to humans remains low.

What the U.S. Department of Agriculture found

Affected cows are showing clinical signs that include a decrease in milk production or feed consumption and thicker consistency milk.

The animals appear to recover after a period of illness. It is suspected that wild birds may have introduced the virus.

Learn more about the HPAI detections in livestock from the USDA Animal Health Inspection Service.

What consumers need to know

Pasteurized cow's milk and milk products remain safe to consume.

Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria and viruses (including influenza) while retaining the nutritional properties of milk. Pasteurization ensures the milk we drink is safe.

There is also no evidence to suggest that eating thoroughly cooked beef could transmit avian influenza to humans. All evidence to date indicates that thorough cooking will kill the virus.

Safe food handling practices, such as handwashing and keeping meat products separate from other food products to avoid cross contamination should be followed.

What producers can do

Prevent the spread of disease by:

Read more information about animal biosecurity, that includes:

What veterinarians can look for

Veterinarians are encouraged to contact their local CFIA animal health office if they suspect HPAI infection and consult the Guidance for private veterinarians.

What to look for:

How we respond to detections in cattle versus poultry

Our response to detections of HPAI in cattle is different from detections in domestic birds. Although the virus is the same, cattle respond differently to the virus.

HPAI spreads rapidly between birds and leads to high mortality rates. This represents significant health risks in birds, resulting in negative impacts to trade of live poultry and poultry products. Cattle show milder signs, with only a small proportion of the herd being affected. Cattle typically recover within one to three weeks.

No cows have died from this virus so far and there are no impacts to trade of live cattle or their products. Our role in HPAI in cattle is to provide scientific guidance and diagnostic assistance and to report internationally.

We are working with the veterinary community, industry, public health authorities and the provinces and territories to coordinate a national response. We will continue to reassess the situation as new information becomes available.

Trade implications

The World Organisation of Animal Health (WOAH) does not recommend restrictions on the movement of healthy cattle and their products at this time. Refer to High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza in Cattle.

Wild birds remain the main source of HPAI. Practising good biosecurity is key to helping prevent disease.

For the importation of live cattle, the CFIA has current import controls in place, including import permits, export certification and veterinary inspection of imported cattle.

We will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation and will consider any additional measures, as necessary.

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