Bird Flu Detected in Texas Individual Exposed to Dairy Cattle

Tue Apr 02 2024
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CHICAGO: Texas and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a case of avian influenza in an individual who had been in contact with dairy cows suspected of carrying the virus.

This marks the second instance of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, being identified in a person in the United States, following a case in Colorado in 2022. This occurrence coincides with the virus spreading to new hosts, including dairy cattle, for the first time.

The CDC stated that this infection does not alter the risk assessment for the general US population regarding H5N1 bird flu, which it still considers to be low. According to the Texas Department of Health, the only symptom observed in the patient from Texas was inflammation of the eye.

On March 25, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that samples of milk taken from diseased cattle in Kansas and Texas tested positive for avian flu, underscoring the extensive reach of the virus, which has been detected in poultry flocks and mammals worldwide. The USDA assured last week that the nation’s milk supply remains safe, as milk from affected cows is being diverted or disposed of to prevent its entry into the food supply. Pasteurization, which eliminates bacteria and viruses like flu, is mandatory for milk intended for interstate commerce, according to the USDA.

The USDA also stated on Monday that it sees no necessity to cull dairy herds as infected cows are being isolated and reportedly showing signs of recovery.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is closely monitoring the situation after the virus was found in dairy cattle in New Mexico, Michigan, Idaho, as well as in key cattle-producing states like Texas and Kansas. Nebraska has announced that it will require all breeding female dairy cattle to obtain a special permit before entry to safeguard the state’s herd.

In addition, this year, H5N1 was detected in a goat in Minnesota on a farm where poultry had tested positive.

Avian flu has expanded its reach across the globe in recent years, facilitated by wild birds. Since 2022, approximately 82 million chickens, turkeys, and other birds have been culled in the US. Although the virus is lethal to poultry, its impact on mammals has been comparatively less severe.

On Monday, futures for live and feeder cattle on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange experienced a decline amid concerns that the presence of bird flu in cattle could lead to reduced demand for meat and dairy products.

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