Bird flu, the latest: Dairy cattle moving between states must be tested

Dairy cattle moving between states must be tested for the bird flu virus, U.S. agriculture officials said Wednesday as they try to track and control the growing outbreak.

The federal order was announced Wednesday one day after health officials said they had detected inactivated remnants of the virus, known as Type A H5N1, in samples taken from milk during processing and from store shelves. They stressed that such remnants pose no known risk to people or the milk supply.

“The risk to humans remains low,” said Dawn O’Connell of the federal Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.

The new order, which goes into effect Monday, requires every lactating cow to be tested and post a negative result before moving to a new state. It will help the agency understand how the virus is spreading, said Michael Watson, an administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“We believe we can do tens of thousands of tests a day,” he told reporters.

Until now, testing had been done voluntarily and only in cows with symptoms.

(Two weeks ago, Georgia officials weighed in with a message for the state’s farmers: Ga. farmers urged to take precautions after latest outbreak of bird flu 97.5 Glory FM | North Georgia’s Family Radio Station ( )

Avian influenza was first detected in dairy cows in March and has been found in nearly three dozen herds in eight states, according to USDA.

It’s an escalation of an ongoing outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza spread by wild birds. Since the start of the outbreak, more than 90 million birds in U.S. commercial flocks have either died from the virus or been killed to try to prevent spread.