State Veterinarian Imposes Movement Restrictions on Dairy Cattle Amid Avian Influenza Outbreak


In response to the USDA’s confirmation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle across four states, the State Veterinarian has implemented a movement restriction on dairy cattle entering Tennessee from affected areas.

As of April 1, 2024, confirmed cases of HPAI in dairy cattle were reported in Texas, Kansas, Michigan, and New Mexico, with pending test results for a presumptive positive case in Idaho awaiting confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). The NVSL has identified the strain as H5N1, which has been circulating among wild birds for several years and appears to have been introduced to these herds by wild birds.

While there have been no HPAI detections in Tennessee’s cattle, producers are advised to adhere to stringent biosecurity measures. This includes minimizing animal movements, isolating sick cattle, and quarantining new animals for at least two weeks before introducing them to existing herds.

Cattle affected by HPAI may show signs such as decreased appetite, flu-like symptoms, and changes in milk quality, including a decrease in production and abnormal appearance. So far, no deaths in cattle due to HPAI have been reported. Older cows are more susceptible to severe effects than younger ones. Tennessee dairy producers are urged to promptly report any signs of HPAI in their herds to their local veterinarian, the State Veterinarian’s Office, or USDA APHIS.

On April 1, 2024, the CDC confirmed a mild case of HPAI in a person from Texas who had been exposed to affected cattle. The individual is currently recovering.

The safety of the commercial milk supply remains unaffected. Dairies are strictly required to send only milk from healthy animals for human consumption. Milk from affected animals is either diverted or disposed of to prevent its entry into the food supply.

Furthermore, pasteurization effectively eliminates bacteria and viruses like influenza from milk, and this process is mandatory for milk intended for interstate commerce. Consumption of raw milk is strongly discouraged. More information on milk safety during HPAI outbreaks is available from the Food and Drug Administration.

Various federal, state, and industry partners are collaborating to monitor cattle health and minimize the impact on farmers, consumers, and other animals.

The Tennessee Departments of Agriculture and Health collaborate closely under the Tennessee One Health Committee, aiming to protect and enhance the health of both animals and people. One Health emphasizes the collective effort across multiple disciplines to achieve optimal health for humans, animals, and the environment.