Diagnostic Testing for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 Virus in Livestock

April 27, 2024

University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UMN-VDL), St. Paul, MN.

Diagnostic Testing for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 Virus in Livestock

April 26, 2024

Prior to interstate movement, milk samples from lactating dairy cattle need to be submitted to an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratory for Influenza A virus (IAV) PCR testing. The UMN-VDL in St. Paul, Minnesota is a member of the NAHLN network and is approved to conduct the test. 

Please use the “Bovine- Influenza A virus H5N1 sample submission form bovine-influenza-a-virus-h5n1 (umn.edu) that is also available on the UMN-VDL website (Submission Forms | Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (umn.edu). The official premise ID must be included on the submission form.  Please contact the State Veterinarian's office to obtain a premises ID if the farm does not have one.

Guidance on Sample Collection & Submission

Milk samples are to be collected by an accredited veterinarian, or a state licensed veterinarian, or a sample collector approved by the appropriate state animal health official. 

Sample collection and testing must take place no more than seven (7) days prior to interstate movement. Samples to be collected include milk/udder secretions from individual cows in a 5 ml snap-cap Falcon-style tube or 15mL conical tubes, one sample tube per cow. Each quarter is sampled and combined into one sample for submission to the laboratory. Submissions must be between 3-10 ml of milk per animal. 

Do not pool samples from multiple animals on-farm or in-clinic. Pooling of milk samples can be done only at the laboratory. The sample tubes themselves should just be serially numbered (eg. 1, 2, 3,) and should not be labeled with the animal ID (eg. 840003269....). The animal ID should be provided on the submission form, corresponding with the appropriate serial number. Samples should be chilled and shipped on frozen gel packs. Use an insulated shipping container and place a copy of the submission form inside the box in a ziplock bag. 

Please ship to: Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, 1333 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108

Turnaround Time

The turnaround time may vary depending on case load but results should be available online the afternoon of the business day following receipt of the samples but could be up to three days after receipt of the samples. Emailed reports are usually sent on the morning after the results have been reported online.

Testing Fees

Fees for testing milk from lactating dairy cattle for HPAI by PCR are paid by the USDA. 

Number of animals to be tested

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. All non-negative tested samples will be sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation. All confirmed positives will be reported to the state veterinarian's office of origin. 

For more details, please refer to the guidance document on APHIS Requirements and Recommendations for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 Virus in Livestock for State Animal Health Officials, Accredited Veterinarians and Producers released on April 26, 2024.


As this situation of HPAI-H5N1 Virus in Livestock is evolving rapidly, please check for updated versions on the APHIS website.