Testing for highly pathogenic avian influenza in cattle

Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2024

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) should be suspected in cases where cows have:

  • sudden decrease in milk production
  • milk with a colostrum-like consistency and a negative or trace positive California Mastitis Test result
  • decreased feed intake
  • decreased rumen motility
  • variable signs of fever
  • secondary signs including constipation or diarrhea, mastitis, pneumonia, fever, increased somatic cell count, abortion

HPAI is a federally reportable disease in cattle. If you suspect HPAI in cattle, contact your local CFIA District Office. The Office of the Chief Veterinarian at OMAFRA should also be notified by calling 1-877-424-1300.

CFIA requests that the following samples be taken from up to 10 clinically-affected animals:

  • 1 composite raw milk sample – up to 10 mL taken from all 4 quarters (all quarters must be sampled as some cases report only 1 quarter affected)
  • 1 nasal swab in Virus Transport Medium (VTM) – 1 swab can be used to sample both nostrils. Do not leave the swab in the VTM, but swirl the swab in the VTM, squeeze out the fluid against the side of the tube and discard the swab.

Milk is the preferred sample as the viral load is highest in milk.

AHL recommends the use of sterile containers to collect milk. Samples should be wiped down with disinfectant and placed in a separate bag before shipping, and the submission form should be placed in its own separate plastic bag.

Please put the HPAI samples in a separate courier submission and do not include any other samples.

Tim Pasma DVM, MSc, MBA

AHL Client Services Veterinarian

519 824 4120 ext 54611



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