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Another case of HPAI confirmed in Ottawa Co. herd, research continues

Grass-fed cows almost always have less total fat in their meat than corn-fed cows.
Zac Visco for NPR
Dairy cow

A Michigan State University researcher calls it “essential” to find out how avian influenza virus spreads among cattle

“Absolutely it is a unique situation and studying it early in the disease phases helps us understand how the organism is transmitting between herds and within herds.”

Dr. Annette O’Connor is a professor and chairperson of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Science in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University.

She is co-leading a team now studying the effects of the highly pathogenic avian influenza A that started in poultry and is now spreading through cattle in multiple counties in Michigan, and in other states.

“We know that this is an important disease that’s affecting producers and we want to try to help as much as we can. The fact there’s some cases in humans is also important.”

Dr. O’Connor credits a long-standing collaboration between the university and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the opportunity to research the disease in its early stages, working closely with Michigan farmers.

“They’ve been a phenomenal help to us. There are questions that can only be answered on real farms, so we have to do these kinds of observational on-farm, between-farm studies to really understand this disease.”

There are multiple studies happening at once with a main focus on what is causing the spread between animals and between herds, so farmers know which biosecurity measures are best to stop that spread.

“It’s not likely to be the perfect study because science is always incremental, but we have to start, and we have to start answering questions we think we can answer in the short-term. And there will always be more questions.”

Data from Michigan farms will be combined with findings from other studies nationwide for a comprehensive analysis.

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