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Testing cattle for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)

Modified June 17, 2024

The Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC), as a National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratory, tests avian and mammalian samples for HPAI by PCR, and forwards all non-negative samples to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation. All confirmed positives are reported to the state veterinarian’s office of origin. In New York, positive results in livestock and poultry require quarantine of the affected premises.

According to the Federal Order issued on April 24, 2024, lactating dairy cattle are required to have a negative HPAI PCR test within 7 days of interstate movement. Per USDA guidance: "For groups/lots of 30 or fewer animals moving interstate, all animals being moved must be tested. If more than 30 animals are moving interstate, then only 30 animals total must be tested." The premovement testing requirement does NOT apply to non-clinical lactating dairy cattle moving interstate direct to slaughter. Test results are available 1-3 days after samples arrive in the lab.

Veterinarians are encouraged to contact the AHDC Veterinary Support Services (607-253-3900 or email vetsupport@cornell.edu) to discuss testing protocol and to notify the laboratory as soon as possible if more than 30 animals are to be tested at one time. Fees for testing bovine specimens for HPAI are paid by the USDA. When submitting samples, official premises ID and the reason for testing must be included on the submission form. On-line ordering is available at https://app.vet.cornell.edu/ahdc-portal/ordering. Contact the State Veterinarian's office to obtain a premises ID if the farm does not have one.

Samples to submit for interstate movement and exhibition of lactating dairy cows:

15 mL screw top vial
  • 10-12 ml of milk from all 4 quarters in one 15 ml screw top vial*, pictured. Do not pool from different cows. Failure to use this vial may result in delayed turnaround time for test results. 15 ml screw top vials are available at no cost through the AHDC supply center, ahdcshipping@cornell.edu or 607-253-3900.

Samples to submit for bulk tank testing (once approved):

  • 10-12 ml of bulk tank milk representing cows from one single premises in one 15 ml screw top vial*, pictured.

Samples to submit from non-lactating cattle:

  • Nasal swab in one 15 ml screw top vial*, pictured, with 0.5 ml sterile saline added.

AHDC submission protocol for bovine HPAI testing:

  1. For fast and easy on-line ordering, use our new bovine HPAI ordering application: https://app.vet.cornell.edu/ahdc-portal/ordering. Otherwise, completely fill out a general submission form, including the premises ID in the owner information box. Include the reason for testing in the history box. Reasons for testing may include interstate movement, international movement, testing of sick animals, or screening for other purposes. The test code is BAIPCR.
  2. Use an insulated shipping container. Ship overnight with cold packs. Place a copy of the submission form in an envelope adhered to the outside of the box. Use a separate submission form and package to request any other diagnostic tests.
  3. Write "F" large on all sides of the shipping box.
  4. Email ahdcmammalfad@cornell.edu before 7am EST on the day the samples are due to arrive with the tracking number. Attach a copy of the completed submission form to the email. In the body of the email please write that you are sending samples for bovine HPAI testing. For on-line orders using our bovine HPAI ordering application, there is no need to send an email.

*Please note the same submission protocol is required for hand delivered samples to the AHDC, with prior notification via email, samples properly packaged, and boxes marked with an "F" on all sides.*

The USDA has provided a FAQ page regarding HPAI in cattle here.