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Health watch: “Mystery” dairy cow disease in Texas identified as HPAI

March 26, 2024  by Manure Manager

Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller received and released confirmation from U.S. secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack that the mysterious disease working its way through dairy farms in the Texas Panhandle is highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, three dairies in Texas and one in Kansas have tested positive for HPAI.

“This presents yet another hurdle for our agriculture sector in the Texas Panhandle,” said Miller in a statement. “Protecting Texas producers and the safety of our food supply chain is my top priority. The Texas Department of Agriculture will use every resource available to maintain the high standards of quality and safety that define Texas agriculture.”

The Texas dairy industry contributes roughly $50 billion in economic activity across the state. Texas also ranks fourth in milk production nationwide and continues to be a key player in the dairy industry.


Miller emphasized that “rigorous safety measures” and protocols are undertaken to ensure that the dairy products themselves remain unaffected by the ailment, and that there is no threat to either public safety or supply shortages.

“In the rare event that some affected milk enters the food chain, the pasteurization process will kill the virus.”

Despite no known threat to public safety, the virus has an undeniable economic effect on Texas’ dairy farms – the flu-like symptoms brought on in cows can result in a reduction in milk production as high as 40 percent among herds, for seven to 10 days until symptoms subside.

“Unlike affected poultry, I foresee there will be no need to depopulate dairy herds,” Miller said. “Cattle are expected to fully recover. The Texas Department of Agriculture is committed to providing unwavering support to our dairy industry.”


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