Bird Flu Outbreak: Dairy Cows Test Positive Across the US

Although several US dairy farms have reported positive avian flu tests in their livestock, the public is not in danger now.

According to the CDC, past illnesses among humans have occurred when people were directly exposed to sick or dead poultry infected with the disease.

The virus has infected cows in Michigan, Texas, and Kansas; other herds in New Mexico and Idaho had presumptive positive test findings. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, this is the first instance of the illness being detected in dairy cows. In late March, the avian flu spread from infected fowl to goats on a farm in Minnesota.

According to USDA authorities, the dairy supply is safe since producers must either discard or redirect milk from sick cows. Milk must be pasteurized before being sold across state lines because it destroys microorganisms and viruses, including influenza.

Residents should be on “alert,” according to Dr. Dave Montgomery, who spoke with News Nation. However, he clarified that only raw milk or foods that contain raw milk might potentially spread the disease. The federal government has said that the sickened cattle would not significantly affect the commercial milk supply and that the price of milk and related goods is not anticipated to increase.

Officials speculated that infected birds may have introduced the H5N1 virus to the afflicted dairy cows. A duck breeding facility in Sumter County, Georgia, reported the first cases of bird flu in 2023 in November. According to reports, the farm was placed under quarantine, and 30,000 ducks were scheduled to be killed to contain the disease.

As genetic sequences from ruminants and wild birds in the United States are made available, virologists search for hints.

The Nextstrain visualization tool has just been updated to include USDA scientists’ recently sequenced whole genomes. This will enable scientists to more accurately trace the family tree of viral sequences.