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HPAI IN A GOAT HERD

Dr. Beth Johnson, DVM



A Stevens County, Minnesota, goat kid (juvenile goat) residing on a farm with a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) positive poultry flock tested positive for the same virus. This is the first U.S. detection of HPAI in a domestic ruminant (cattle, sheep, goats, and their relatives). All poultry on the property were already quarantined from the February HPAI detection. Following the confirmation of HPAI in the goat, the MN Board of Animal Health quarantined all other species on the premises. The MN Board is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the transmission of the virus in this case.


“This finding is significant because, while the spring migration is definitely a higher risk transmission period for poultry, it highlights the possibility of the virus infecting other animals on farms with multiple species,” said MN State Veterinarian, Dr. Brian Hoefs. “Thankfully, research to-date has shown mammals appear to be dead-end hosts, which means they’re unlikely to spread HPAI further.”


Earlier this month the owner notified the Board of unusual deaths of newly kidded goats on the property where a backyard poultry flock was depopulated due to HPAI in February. The goats and poultry had access to the same space, including a shared water source. One of the goat carcasses was taken to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL), where it tested positive for influenza A. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) later confirmed H5N1 HPAI, which is the same virus circulating in the national outbreak that began in 2022. Samples from the adult goats were negative for HPAI and all appear healthy; no more sick goat kids have been reported since March 11.


HPAI has been previously diagnosed in other mammalian species such as skunks, dogs and cats. Animals with weakened or immature immune systems, like the goat kids in this case, are at higher risk of contracting disease. There has been limited experimental data on HPAI infection in ruminants, and there are no prior reports of natural HPAI infection in goats. The USDA has tracked more than 200 detections of HPAI in mammals across the country since the start of the 2022 HPAI outbreak.

 

The risk to the public is extremely low, and any risk of infection is limited to people in direct contact with infected animals. To date, no people in the United States have become ill following contact with mammals infected with this virus.


Biosecurity is the first line of defense for anyone to protect their animals from disease which includes:

 

  • People and Equipment Movement

    • Provide farm-dedicated boots and clothing for everyone working routinely on the farm.

    • Limit visitors to those essential to the operation,

    • Provide visitors with boot covers or access to farm-dedicated footwear,

    • Maintain a visitor log book that includes previous animal contact,

    • Do not share equipment that will enter animal housing areas between farms,

    • Disinfect equipment and housing regularly,  

  • Animal Movement:

    • Quarantining any new additions away from the rest of the animals on the farm,

    • When animals are moved on or off farms, ensure trailers arrive clean and without animals from other operations,

    • Prevent comingling of species if possible,

    • Feed and care for your healthy animals first, followed by those who appear sick and wear proper protective equipment (disposable booties, disposable gloves, etc.),

    • Acquire animals from known disease-free herds,

    • Separating livestock from wild animals,

    • Calling your veterinarian when animals appear sick or any unexplained sudden death occurs.

 

  • Wild Bird Control:

    • Waterfowl are the highest risk, though other types of birds can also harbor HPAI,

    • Limit access to natural food sources like berries where possible,

    • Restrict farm vehicle access to areas with waterfowl feces,

    • Identify areas where birds congregate in buildings and install barriers or deterrents to limit access to these areas,

    • Eliminate areas that hold standing water longer than 24 hours, as this attracts waterfowl,

    • Fence livestock away from ponds,

    • Avoid unfiltered surface water,

    • Fully empty and disinfect water troughs frequented by birds.

 

For more information about this:

 

Dr. Beth Johnson is a Staff Veterinarian in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and has 40 years of experience raising and treating small ruminants. Her family farms in Parksville, KY where she raises Gelbvieh cattle and Boer goats.




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