Dairy Cows Have Been Found To Have Bird Flu In Kansas And Texas

(NationalUSNews.com) — On Monday March 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that unpasteurized clinical milk samples from sick dairy cows from several dairy farms across three states has tested positive for the highly contagious pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI). The U.S. Department of Agriculture has working alongside the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and public health and state veterinary authorities to determine the cause of a mysterious illness that had been detected in several states, generally in older dairy cows.

The agencies have been firm in their assurance that the commercial milk supply remains safe due to federal animal health requirements, and food safety requirements regarding pasteurization. Federal and state agricultural and health agencies are monitoring the rapidly evolving situation. The current understanding is that the infection is limited to less than 10% of lactating dairy cows in the affected herds and may have been transmitted by wild birds, as some of the farms have said they have seen deceased wild birds in the vicinity.

Janet Buffer, from George Washington University’s Food and Policy Institute, says that consumers don’t need to worry about viruses or bacteria in pasteurized milk or milk products made from pasteurized milk, as the process kills any viruses, bacteria or other microbes in milk, without altering the taste or nutritional value of the product. The USDA also offers reassurance by pointing out that all milk from sick cows does not make it into general supply and is generally destroyed.

Unlike chickens affected by the bird flu, the cows do not need to be killed, and generally recover within a few weeks. Humans are generally not vulnerable to bird flu viruses. Most infections from avian flu viruses in people have been from the H7N9 and H5N1 varieties, with results ranging from completely asymptomatic to severe illness that can result in death. While any illness that can spread from one species to another is a cause for some concern, there is no indication that this limited outbreak will have any effect on the public.

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