April 3, 2024


Bird flu detected in Texas and Kansas, US dairy cattle milk



US officials have confirmed the presence of bird flu in milk in dairy cattle from Texas and Kansas, raising concerns about its potential impact on the livestock industry and food safety, PBS NewsHour reported.


The Texas Animal Health Commission verified that the flu virus affecting the dairy cattle is the Type A H5N1 strain, which is known for causing outbreaks in birds and occasionally infecting humans. Affected cattle in Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico are experiencing decreased lactation and appetite.


This revelation follows last week's announcement from Minnesota officials, who reported cases of bird flu in goats on a farm previously affected by outbreaks among poultry. It marks the first instance of bird flu detected in US livestock.


The US Department of Agriculture assured the public of the safety of the commercial milk supply, stating that the risk to consumers is low. Dairy farms are mandated to prevent milk from diseased animals from entering the food supply, with contaminated milk being diverted or disposed of. Additionally, pasteurisation, a standard process for milk sold through interstate commerce, effectively eliminates viruses and bacteria.


USDA tests on the cattle did not detect any alterations to the virus that would enhance its transmissibility to humans. Commissioner Sid Miller of the Texas Department of Agriculture recounted dairy farmers' concerns about the sudden onset of illness among cattle, which led to reduced milk production and appetite loss.


The virus is suspected to have been transmitted to the cattle from infected wild birds, based on findings from Texas. Unlike bird flu outbreaks in poultry, affected livestock typically recover within a week to 10 days without the need for culling. Since 2022, bird flu outbreaks have affected millions of wild and commercial birds in the US.


According to Michael Payne, a veterinarian and biosecurity expert, the virus has infected approximately 10% of lactating dairy cattle in the affected herds. The situation is being closely monitored by federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, along with state authorities.


Enhanced biosecurity measures are being implemented on dairy farms nationwide to mitigate the spread of the virus.


-      PBS NewsHour

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