On June 6, 2024, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported that H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in a Benton County dairy herd. Dairy farmers should monitor their herd and contact their veterinarian immediately if cows appear sick. The Board will report any new detections and updates on cow cases in Minnesota on its website

For the latest on national HPAI detection in dairy cattle, visit the USDA website. For the latest in milk and dairy product safety efforts, visit the FDA website.

Minnesota agricultural and animal health officials are monitoring this developing situation and are in contact with industry officials.

Testing Requirements for Dairy Cows Before Events

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has announced testing requirements for lactating dairy cows effective Tuesday, June 18. All lactating (currently producing milk) dairy cows must have both a negative H5N1 test result and Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) to attend any exhibition in Minnesota. The requirements are effective until December 31, 2024. You can find more information on the Board of Animal Health's website.

Testing for Interstate Movement and Reporting Requirements

The USDA announced a Federal Order, effective Monday, April 29, 2024, requiring testing for, and reporting of, HPAI in certain dairy cattle. Review the full breakdown of the order on the USDA website. Here’s the bulleted version of the Federal Order highlights:

Mandatory Testing for Interstate Movement of Dairy Cattle

  • Prior to interstate movement, dairy cattle are required to receive a negative test for Influenza A virus at an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratory.
  • Owners of herds in which dairy cattle test positive for interstate movement will be required to provide epidemiological information, including animal movement tracing.
  • Dairy cattle moving interstate must adhere to conditions specified by APHIS.
  • As will be described in forthcoming guidance, these steps will be immediately required for lactating dairy cattle, while these requirements for other classes of dairy cattle will be based on scientific factors concerning the virus and its evolving risk profile.

Mandatory Reporting

  • Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive Influenza A nucleic acid detection diagnostic results (e.g. PCR or genetic sequencing) in livestock to USDA APHIS.
  • Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive Influenza A serology diagnostic results in livestock to USDA APHIS.

Review the Frequently Asked Questions on the Federal Order.

Review the official USDA guidance on the Federal Order.

Federal Support

USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have announced actions aimed at reducing the impact and spread of HPAI. The actions aim to reduce the impact of H5N1 on affected premises and producers, increase testing and screening and testing capacity, and other measures. On May 23, USDA expanded some of these support options to include dairy producers whose herds have not tested positive for H5N1. Read more about these options for producers.

The USDA announced on May 30 $824 Million in new funding to protect livestock health. The funding will support anticipated diagnostics, field response activities, pre-movement testing requirements, other necessary surveillance and control activities, surveillance in wildlife, and more. 

Farm Biosecurity

Dairy producers are encouraged to consider heightened biosecurity measures such as those described in the Secure Milk Supply Plan

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health notes some important biosecurity points:

  • Separate all incoming animals for 21-30 days and screen for signs of disease before allowing them into your herd.
  • Milk imported animals last.
  • Use a Line of Separation and specific access points to restrict staff or visitors to certain areas on the farm.
  • Create a clean/dirty line at barn or parlor entries where staff or visitors can change into barn specific footwear or clothing and clean and disinfect (This point is especially important if staff travel between different locations).
  • Report clinical signs or suspected illnesses to your veterinarian immediately.
  • Know where you source your feed and keep rodents and wildlife away from stored feed. Keep feed covered or contained and clean any feed spills immediately.
  • Provide clean water and keep wildlife away from troughs.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has developed biosecurity and milk handling recommendations for state animal health officials, accredited veterinarians, and producers.

Milk & Dairy Product Safety

There continues to be no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply because products are pasteurized before entering the market. Pasteurization has continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk. Pasteurization is required for any milk entering commerce for human consumption.

Also, dairies are required to send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption. Because milk from impacted animals looks abnormal, it is discarded and does not enter the human food supply.

People should not prepare or eat uncooked or undercooked food, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk or raw cheeses, from animals with suspected or confirmed HPAI virus infection. Raw milk or unpasteurized dairy products may contain harmful bacteria or viruses and can cause illness. The MDA will not allow sales of raw milk direct to consumers from farms whose herds are confirmed infected. This milk would be considered adulterated under MINN. STAT. 32D.19.

The FDA has information on the safety of the milk supply and dairy products.

Farm Worker Safety

The CDC considers the human health risk of H5N1 for the general public low. However, people with close or prolonged, unprotected exposures to infected birds or other animals (including livestock), or to an environment contaminated by infected birds or other animals, are at greater risk of infection. The CDC has interim recommendations for prevention, monitoring, and public health investigations of HPAI viruses.

USDA APHIS has developed recommendations for HPAI in livestock for workers. The CDC has developed recommendations for worker protection and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to reduce exposure to HPAI.

Farm Stress and Mental Health

The MDA has resources and programs available to farmers experiencing stress and metal health concerns. Find out more information on our Coping with Farm and Rural Stress web page

HPAI (H5N1) in Dairy FAQ

Biosecurity will be the most effective method to protect your animals. Minimize access of wild birds to cattle and their environment.

  • Manage the movement of cattle and their transport as much as possible.
  • Do not feed unpasteurized colostrum or milk to calves, cattle, or other mammals.
  • Implement precautions for caretakers and veterinary teams handling sick cows, sick or dead birds, small mammals, and unpasteurized milk.
  • Separate (quarantine) all new or returning animals for at least 21 days.
  • Contact your herd veterinarian if increased cow illness is observed in your herd, specifically in second lactation or greater cows that are 150 days or more in milk.

Wild birds, wild animals, poultry, dairy cattle, and newborn goats have tested positive for H5N1 in Minnesota.

Infections in cattle have been traced back to infected wild birds. Research is continuing on the transmission route between animals. The newborn goat kids that were diagnosed in Minnesota shared a water source with infected poultry that had been depopulated at the same site.

Sick cattle are typically isolated and recover. Depopulation of cattle is not recommended. Milk from sick cows is diverted from the food supply. Pasteurized milk is safe to drink.

Federal funding is available for milk testing at National Animal Health Laboratory Network labs for premovement of lactating dairy cattle. Shipping and sampling expenses are not eligible expenses.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture communicates and works closely with the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Board of Animal Health, United States Department of Agriculture, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and industry partners to share information and develop plans to be best prepared.

Wear clean boots or boot covers, clean clothing, wearing disposable gloves, and safety goggles. For additional guidance see the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health.

  • Poultry questions should be directed to the Minnesota Avian Influenza hotline 1-833-454-0156.
  • The Department of Natural Resources is addressing sick and dead wild bird reports, contact local DNR wildlife staff or the DNR information center at 888-646-6367.
  • Any other diseases contact the Minnesota Board of Animal Health: 651-296-2942 or your district veterinarian (business hours).
  • Human health questions can be directed to the Minnesota Department of Health: Dr. Stacy Holzbauer at 651-201-5592 or Malia Ireland at 651-201-5136.
  • Milk and food safety concerns can be directed to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at 651-201-6300.
  • Biosecurity Assessments and deterrent options are available through the USDA APHIS wildlife services: Jason Gilsdorf or any wildlife services personnel for assistance at 612-271-5119 or Jason.M.Gilsdorf@usda.gov