H5N1 Testing Required to Exhibit

Dairy Exhibitors Told to Find Out About Specific Regulations Surrounding H5N1 Bird Flu

Jennifer Carrico
By  Jennifer Carrico , Senior Livestock Editor
States are releasing information on testing requirements to take dairy cows to exhibitions because of concerns about the spread of H5N1 avian influenza. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jennifer Carrico)

REDFIELD, Iowa (DTN) -- Twelve states have confirmed cases of H5N1 avian influenza in dairy cows and with fairs and shows nearing, many are making restrictions on what needs done for the health and well-being of the animals and people in attendance.

USDA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with state animal health officials across the country to determine the best way to proceed with exhibitions.

A federal order has been in place since late April, in which lactating dairy cattle must test negative for H5N1 bird flu within a week of movement. This has been used by some states, including Wisconsin, for placing regulations on dairy shows who will require a negative test on lactating dairy cows within seven days of moving into the event. This goes into effect on June 19, when Wisconsin's first county fair begins.

"Although we do not have a confirmed case in dairy cattle in Wisconsin at this point, we did feel that with the increasing number of cases, especially in our region, that it made sense to minimize opportunities for this virus to be introduced or spread among animals in Wisconsin," said Wisconsin State Veterinarian Darlene Konkle. She said research has shown the virus spreads more easily through lactating dairy cows, which is why they must be tested; this is consistent with the USDA orders.

"The health and safety of our fairgoers, exhibitors, animals, and staff remains our top priority," Tess Kerksen, director of public relations for the Wisconsin State Fair Park, told DTN. "We are taking this matter very seriously and working with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) to closely monitor the situation as the state fair approaches. We will communicate with exhibitors and fairgoers if any modifications to our shows are needed. The fair's milking parlor procedures are currently being carefully reviewed." The Wisconsin State Fair runs from Aug. 1 to 11, but the procedures for the testing will be for all fairs and similar exhibitions in the state.


The World Dairy Expo is slated for Oct. 1 to 4 in Madison, Wisconsin. Being the world's largest dairy-focused event with trade show, educational seminars and dairy cattle shows, they must adhere to federal and state guidelines regarding the assembly of animals and people.

"We are relying on the WDATCP and USDA to provide directives," Lisa Behnke, communications manager for the World Dairy Expo, told DTN. "Currently, lactating animals will be permitted to show at World Dairy Expo, provided they have tested negative for HPAI/H5N1 within seven days of arrival in Madison."

Officials at the World Dairy Expo said the health of the North American dairy herd is of the utmost importance to them and they plan to do their part to ensure the safety of the animals and people that attend the show. These officials will continue to work with the veterinary community and regulatory agencies if further guidance is needed. The Wisconsin order is in effect until 60 days after the last H5N1 case in dairy cattle across the U.S.


The addition of Iowa and Minnesota dairy herds being detected with H5N1 recently has brought the number of states with infected herds to 12 in more than 90 dairies across the country.

At present time, both the Minnesota State Fair and Iowa State Fair haven't made any decisions regarding how H5N1 could affect their shows. According to the Minnesota State Fair media department, they will closely monitor the situation throughout the summer and follow the recommendations of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture. Minnesota's fair runs from Aug. 22 to Sept. 2.

Iowa State Fair officials said they are working with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the state veterinarian to help make decisions for their shows, which are Aug. 8 to 17. With the fair and exhibition season quickly approaching, the ag department said it is considering additional requirements for exhibition participants.

"Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza continues to pose a significant threat to our livestock and the livelihoods of the farmers that care for them. To better prepare and respond to this challenge, the Department is taking additional response measures and is making additional resource requests of USDA in order to support this ongoing and collaborative effort," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig stated in a news release. "Our team remains in daily communication with USDA, other states, farm organizations and industry stakeholders and we will be continually evaluating our response steps as new information arises. This is going to take the entire agricultural community working together because we all have a stake in protecting the herds and flocks of Iowa."


In May, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development released an order that said all lactating dairy cattle, and those in the last two months of pregnancy, are prohibited from being exhibited until there are no new cases of HPAI in dairy cattle in Michigan for at least 60 consecutive days. No dairy cattle of any age from an infected premise may be exhibited until further notice. Michigan's most recent case in dairy cattle was on June 7 in a Clinton County herd. Michigan is also the site of 30% of all affected herds nationally.

In California, the state with the largest number of dairy cows in the country, the negative testing prior to movement requirement has been in place since April 4, even before the USDA order.

Paul Sousa with Western United Dairies based in California told DTN the testing requirements do create some additional burdens to moving cattle to exhibitions, but it does not stop them. "However, cattle owners have become increasingly cautious about exposing their cattle and herds to HPAI and therefore may be less likely to attend exhibitions with their cattle," he said.

For USDA guidance on planning for dairy shows, visit: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/….

Assurances from federal and state health officials say pasteurization of milk inactivates the virus and the commercial milk supply is safe. Veterinarians and officials recommend a ramp up of biosecurity measures on dairies, including isolating and testing any animals introduced or returning to a farm.

See more on DTN coverage of H5N1 avian influenza at https://www.dtnpf.com/…).


Editor's note: For more information regarding exhibition requirements, contact your state agricultural department and the officials at the show you plan to attend.

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at jennifer.carrico@dtn.com

Follow her on social platform X @JennCattleGal

Jennifer Carrico