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Coordinating HPAI Response at the State Level

North Carolina got the all-clear from the World Organization of Animal Health last week that the dairy herd that had contracted avian influenza had now tested negative. But the U.S. dairy industry and federal officials continue steps to eliminate the H5N1 virus in dairy herds across several states. Officials at the state level are also coordinating their efforts to help move cattle between states as safely as possible.

Even before a federal order was released, Dr. Justin Smith, the animal health coordinator for Kansas, issued an order that expanded requirements for interstate or intrastate movement of lactating cattle to include a recent health certificate. Smith says the amount of coordination between state officials is tremendous.

“I will tell you, if we’re not talking on a daily basis as a group or a subgroup, we’re emailing continuously. This process of trying to figure out how to move animals into a livestock market and get them to a point of slaughter without imposing testing requirements has been problematic, and I bet there has probably been 50 emails today that’s gone by with different veterinarians discussing how they see it and what that looks like.”

Smith says producers need consistent rules when moving animals between states.

“I mean, that conversations happening all the time, and there’s a tremendous amount of working together, collaboration because we know that if this is going to work, we’ve got to figure out a way to make it consistent across because producers can’t navigate 50 sets of requirements out there regarding the federal order.”

Some sale barns in Kansas have temporarily halted all sales of lactating dairy cattle. Smith says the sale barns are taking that initiative on their own.

“We sent the notifications out to all of our markets, and all of our veterinarians, describing what the process was going to be based on if it was an out-of-state cow coming in, or if it was an in-state cow, or if she was going directly to slaughter, or how that was going to look. And so, we tried to develop all those scenarios and what the process is going to be, and then it was up to each and every market how they wanted to handle it.”