Maryland restricts dairy cattle movement due to bird flu outbreak

Maryland restricts dairy cattle movement due to bird flu outbreak

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BALTIMORE — The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is limiting the movement of dairy cattle into local farms after an outbreak of Avian Flu (H5N1), also known as bird flu, in seven states. 

By limiting cattle import and adding additional testing, the state is hoping to keep local cattle healthy.

The illness can slow down milk production and could cost local farmers who are trying to make a profit.

“They won’t be able to sell their milk they won’t have as much milk to sell, so that’s the main issue facing farmers right now,” Belle Dallam, herdsman at Broom’s Bloom Dairy in Bel Air, said.

The MDA says wild birds have been carrying this disease for years and introduced it to herds. Now, cattle in seven states are infected. Maryland is now requiring additional testing for cows imported to the state.

“If you’ve got wild bird fly ways going through your state, which we do, you’re susceptible to outbreaks of Avian Influenza,” MDA Sec. Kevin Atticks said.

If a cow contracts bird flu, they become lethargic, their milk production decreases, and their milk not safe for consumption. Typically, cows can get healthy after a week of rest and recovery.

“The main thing that farmers can do is the prevention, practicing good biosecurity, we can keep a good eye on the cattle,” Dallam said.

It is exceedingly rare for humans to contract bird flu. In early April, one case was reported in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Consuming dairy or beef is safe, if you are purchasing pasteurized dairy products and are cooking beef properly. The USDA requires milk to be pasteurized before it hits store shelves, and farmers are required to only distribute milk from healthy cows.

“As long as you’re drinking pasteurized milk and cooking your beef to the correct cooking temperatures, then the avian flu will be killed in that process and not get any human sick,” Dallam added.

Broom’s Bloom Dairy has raised dairy and beef cows since 1726 when the farm was founded. Dallam is part of the ninth generation to run the farm on S. Fountain Green Road. They sell milk, cheese, ice cream and other products sourced on site. They bottle thousands of pounds of milk per day for sale.

The dairy says the state’s restrictions will help keep the dairy farms safe statewide and keep the multi-million-dollar industry operating.

“All of your milk you buy from grocery store is local, so it’s coming from dairy farmers around us. They are kind of more of the backbone of this community than I think a lot of people realize,” Dallam continued.

The state has issued tips to farmers to keep their cattle safe, including watching for any signs of illness and reporting any cases to the MDA.

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