General News | Practitioner Updates

Diagnostic Laboratory Aids in New Testing Requirement for Lactating Cows at Illinois Exhibitions


In response to ongoing concerns about H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in U.S. dairy herds, the Illinois Department of Agriculture today announced new requirements for lactating cows at exhibitions in the state. (See the FAQs and testing protocols.)

The requirements apply to all county fairs and exhibitions as well as to the Illinois state fairs held in Springfield and Du Quoin.

The IDOA website states that H5N1 has not yet been detected in Illinois dairy cattle as of July 8. However, “detections have occurred in 12 states and continue to occur. State, federal and industry partners must work together to protect the industry.”

Samples of the cow’s milk must be tested at a National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) approved lab. The University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is the only approved NAHLN lab within Illinois. See the lab’s sample submission and testing information.

A negative test result must be documented within seven days of the cow’s arrival at the exhibition. Veterinarians from the University of Illinois provide services at the annual state fair in Springfield. They will be available to assist with sampling and test submission for cows traveling from that fair to another.

More on the Avian Influenza

Dr. Jim Lowe, associate dean for online programs and extension at the College of Veterinary Medicine, conducts research on influenza. He recently provided information about the virus and how it has found its way into a variety of species.

He notes that H5N1, which originated as a purely avian virus, is highly pathogenic, meaning it kills birds.

“It subsequently moved from cows to people. As of July 8, we have seen four human cases, all in dairy workers who had exposure to sick cows.”

While the avian flu has been documented moving from cows to people, it has not been documented moving from person to person.

Feature photo of dairy cows at a Wisconsin state fair by Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons