American Bird Flu Outbreak May Have Started in Dairy

American Bird Flu Outbreak May Have Started in Dairy

( – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandated testing for H5N1 (bird flu) on April 24 before sending dairy cows from their state of origin to other states.

The order also includes a reporting requirement and additional testing for dairy cows. The USDA previously only required testing and reporting for poultry influenza, but this limited their ability to investigate what appeared to be a spread of H5N1 to cattle. The need to identify all cases of bird flu confirmed to have infected dairy cows in March 2024 is critical.

On April 23, health officials discovered minor amounts of bird flu in samples of milk from various farms throughout the United States. According to current data, eight states have identified cases of dairy cow infection. The officials have released information stating that consumers of this milk are not in danger from the small amounts found.

Although the exact mechanism of H5N1 transmission from birds to cows is unknown, a working theory suggests that an infected wild bird spreads the virus through bodily fluids.

The new order by the USDA is effective as of April 29 and requires all dairy cows who are lactating to receive testing prior to crossing state lines. If the test results are positive, the owner must refrain from moving any of the cows for 30 days and ensure they receive a negative test before moving them. If the second test is positive, the owner of the herd must release data regarding the animal’s movements. This data will facilitate the examination of the infection’s origin and mode of transmission.

A USDA director of inspection, Mike Watson, stated that reporting positive tests will provide an understanding of the epidemiologic transition of the disease in order to limit its spread. He added that they are taking it seriously as the details evolve.

A University of Arizona biologist, Michael Worobey, analyzed information on the genetic sequences and said that there appears to have been a single instance of transference from bird to cow.

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