SPRINGFIELD – While no cases have been reported in Illinois, federal agencies confirmed the detection of H5N1 influenza virus in dairy herds in eight states across the U.S. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are working closely to monitor the situation and are jointly coordinating prevention and response measures. This includes working with producer groups and partner organizations to promote education to veterinarians and cattle farmers on the clinical signs of H5N1 influenza so that potential infections can be quickly identified and contained.

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Effective Monday, April 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has implemented mandatory testing for interstate movement of dairy cattle as well as mandatory reporting of positive results to limit the spread of the disease.

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“While we have no confirmed cases in Illinois, what we have seen in other states is that affected dairy animals are recovering with very low mortality rates,” said Dr. Mark Ernst, IDOA State Veterinarian. “These additional safety protocols are being implemented out of an abundance of caution, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the risk to humans is low.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emphasizes that the commercial milk supply is safe because of the pasteurization process, which destroys bacteria and viruses in milk. Protocols are also in place to destroy milk from affected dairy animals.

“IDPH prioritizes the safety of our milk supply as well as the Illinoisans who work with cattle and poultry,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “Please note that pasteurized milk is safe, but we strongly recommend that Illinoisans avoid any unpasteurized raw milk products at this time based on the potential risk of infection.”

Illinois is home to more than 600 dairy farms with 73,000 cows or calves, based on USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service estimates.

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