Safeguard your farm: Protect you and your livestock from HPAI

Safeguard your farm: Protect you and your livestock from HPAI


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu, avian influenza, or H5N1, is a severe and highly contagious disease caused by the avian influenza virus A (H5N1).

This virus is frequently spread with wild birds such as ducks and geese during their migrations. When HPAI infects domestic poultry, including chickens and turkeys, it is highly contagious and deadly, often wiping out entire flocks in just a few days.

Traditionally, HPAI primarily affects birds and some mammals. However, for the first time in U.S. history, there have been detections of Influenza A (H5N1) infections in livestock, including dairy cows. Since April 2024, three dairy workers—one in Texas and two in Michigan—have tested positive for influenza A (H5N1) after exposure to infected dairy cattle.  In June 2024, avian influenza was confirmed in a Minnesota dairy herd.

The overall risk to the public remains low. However, individuals who handle or care for infected animals, such as poultry or cattle, could be at an increased risk of getting sick.

This ongoing situation emphasizes the importance of biosecurity on the farm and ongoing monitoring to control the spread of H5N1 HPAI and protect both animal and human health.


UMASH has prepared a toolkit to help poultry farmers enhance prevention with biosecurity protocols, identify the signs and symptoms of HPAI in birds, and stay connected to additional resources from USDA – APHIS and state departments of agriculture.


Avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses, including A (H5N1), do not usually infect humans. However, there have been some rare cases of human infection with these viruses mainly through unprotected, direct physical contact or close exposure with sick or dead birds, and infected animals (including, recently, infected dairy cattle livestock).

According to CDC’s interim recommendations, people should:

  • Avoid unprotected exposures to sick or dead animals including wild birds, poultry, other domesticated birds, and other wild or domesticated animals (including cattle), as well as with animal carcasses, raw milk, feces, litter, or materials contaminated by birds or other animals with confirmed or suspected HPAI A(H5N1)-virus infection.
  • Refrain from preparing or eating uncooked or undercooked food or products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, or products made from raw milk such as cheeses, from animals with confirmed or suspected HPAI A(H5N1)-virus infection (avian influenza or bird flu).
“At this time, there continues to be no concern about the safety and availability of pasteurized milk products nationwide. Pasteurization has continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk and is required for any milk entering interstate commerce.” – FDA

Avian Flu and Your SafetyAvian Flu and Your Safety: Guidance for Dairy Workers

This resource from Migrant Clinicians Network provides helpful tips for protecting workers, as well as the signs and symptoms of avian flu infection. Available in English and Spanish.

Prevent the Spread

The situation of HPAI infection risk in livestock like goats, sheep, pigs, and cattle is rapidly evolving, but there are steps you can take to prevent the spread.

  • Keep poultry away from livestock
  • Use separate water sources and feed stuffs for livestock and poultry
  • Keep livestock away from ponds and wild waterfowl
  • Monitor livestock for symptoms and report illnesses quickly
Help protect your livestock from avian influenza. Infographic Source: University of Minnesota Extension.

Source: University of Minnesota Extension

Learn more from Dr. Jeff Bender

Explore further insights on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) through published articles and interviews featuring UMASH Director and University of Minnesota School of Public Health Professor, Jeff Bender, DVM, as he answers key questions about H5N1 among wild birds, poultry and dairy.