Alberta dairy producers urged to continue monitoring herds amid US bird flu outbreak

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Officials in Alberta continue to monitor the ongoing outbreak of bird flu in dairy cows in the United States, advising producers to closely monitor their herds.

Bird flu has now been found in flocks in eleven US states, including Minnesota and Iowa.

Dr. Keith Lehman, chief provincial veterinarian with Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation, said it is critical that dairy producers remain vigilant.

“The most important thing right now is to make sure that our producers have that heightened awareness, that they are closely monitoring their herds before the disease breaks out so that we catch it as early as possible,” he said.

Dairy producers called for people to closely monitor their flocks and watch for signs of bird flu.

Dairy producers called for people to closely monitor their flocks and watch for signs of bird flu.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Conroy

Last month, Canada introduced new import requirements that require lactating dairy cows from the U.S. to test negative for bird flu within seven days of export.

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So far, no sign of the disease has been found in Canadian cows, and all milk sold in stores must be pasteurized, which has been shown to effectively kill the virus.

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Lehman said there are a range of options available to dairy farmers to minimize the risks of bird flu entering a flock and then spreading.

“Do things like isolate new animals into their herd and keep them separate for a while before introducing them to the rest of their herd.”

“We offer testing for this virus if they want to have animals pre-screened before moving them so they can have samples collected from the herd the animals come from and tested before purchasing those animals or bringing them into their herd. ” said Lehman.

Signs in dairy cattle that may indicate bird flu infection include decreased milk production, loss of appetite and thicker milk consistency.

On June 5, the World Health Organization confirmed the first-ever human death caused by bird flu. The source of exposure to the virus is currently unknown.

Lehman said the genetics of flu viruses are being closely watched to determine whether they pose an increased risk to human health.

“There is always a looming risk that flu viruses could pose greater health risks to people and also spread from person to person. But fortunately we are not dealing with that situation at the moment.”

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– with files from The Canadian Press

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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