HPAI waning in Texas, but questions remain to be answered

HPAI waning in Texas, but questions remain to be answered

Return to May 2024 newsletter

HPAI waning in Texas, but questions remain to be answered

By Darren Turley
TAD Executive Director

We’re less than halfway through 2024, but what a year it’s already been for the Texas dairy industry. When dairy farmers largely were not impacted by the historic Panhandle wildfires, I thought we had escaped devastation for the year.

Then came the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which has spread through cows in dairy herds across the north and south plains of the Texas Panhandle. This health crisis has left its impact not only on Texas, but on nine states and numerous operations. While we are now seeing the disease decrease in Texas, we are left with many more questions than answers.

I do not know if we will ever understand how HPAI made the jump to dairy cattle from the seasonal migrating birds that move across this part of the state. Nor do we have an answer to how it moved from herd to herd so quickly. Affected operations saw the disease spread through entire herds in just over a month, and then quickly stopped.

Many testing efforts from multiple state and federal agencies are underway to try to better understand the disease – Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease has come and gone so quickly that much of this testing is being conducted in other states that have shown infection later than Texas. As we move forward, it will be interesting to see what results are presented from these testing endeavors.

Dairy producers in East Texas have been concerned that the disease will come to their area and spread to the many poultry operations in that region. The Texas Poultry Federation has worked hand-in-hand with Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD) to better understand this outbreak and to work to protect both the flocks and herds that could potentially be infected.

The concern now for Texas producers is whether the disease is a one-time occurrence or if it will become an annual issue.

Over the years, TAD has worked with state and federal agencies and other organizations to prepare for a crisis event, practicing scenarios from an extreme weather event to a major disease outbreak such as foot and mouth disease. The HPAI outbreak has shown that some of our preparations were correct, while other areas did not go as anticipated.

TAD will continue to work with our industry partners and others to develop and perfect response strategies, so that we can be prepared for the next curveball and protect our Texas dairy farmers and herds as much as possible.

Return to May 2024 newsletter




Get the latest Texas dairy news delivered monthly to your inbox.