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Understanding cross-species virus transmission

Understanding cross-species virus transmission


By Scout Nelson

The discovery of influenza virus traces in unexpected locations has raised concerns about virus transmission between species, echoing the challenges seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. KSU veterinarians discussed the transmission of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus and its potential implications for beef producers in a Cattle Chat podcast.

Veterinarian Bob Larson from Kansas State University noted, “(HPAI) is a virus. Most viruses don’t cross species, but the influenza virus is one that will move between birds and pigs, and occasionally other animals including humans.” This statement underscores the unique ability of the influenza virus to traverse species boundaries, presenting challenges for disease control and management.

The HPAI virus, which has a high mortality rate in birds, poses a significant threat to poultry production. Veterinarian Brian Lubbers highlighted that it often moves from wild birds to commercial poultry operations, leading to significant death loss. This highlights the need for understanding and managing virus transmission pathways.

Earlier this year, the HPAI virus was detected in dairy cattle operations, marking a concerning development. Larson remarked, “With this particular outbreak, we’ve seen it cross over to cattle, usually at low levels, and that is something we haven’t identified before.”

This shift in the virus's host range raises questions about its adaptability and potential impacts on different animal species.

HPAI virus infection in dairy cattle is distinct from typical viral infections, as it is associated with mid-lactation cows, with high fever and decreased milk production as primary clinical signs.

This highlights the complexity of viral infections and the need for tailored management strategies, as typical viral infections typically impact cows in early lactation.

Diagnostic testing is crucial for confirming the presence of viruses, allowing accurate detection and monitoring of viral infections through PCR or genome sequencing tests, facilitating timely intervention and control measures, as stated by Lubbers.

Government agencies have implemented restrictions on cattle movements to limit the spread of the virus. The USDA APHIS has developed regulations for interstate movement of lactating dairy cattle. It is crucial to work with local veterinarians to obtain the latest information before shipping animals from the dairy.

The ongoing understanding of HPAI virus transmission necessitates proactive surveillance and collaboration among stakeholders for effective disease management.

Beef producers must acknowledge the complexity of diseases and the ongoing research needed to understand this virus in cattle. Collective efforts are crucial for safeguarding animal health and maintaining the integrity of the livestock industry.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-pamwalker68

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Categories: Kansas, Livestock, Beef Cattle, Dairy Cattle, Poultry

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