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Bird flu in cows - a rising U.S. Issue

Bird flu in cows - a rising U.S. Issue

By Andi Anderson

The spread of bird flu or H5N1 among dairy cows in the United States has sparked concern among public health experts and agricultural professionals.

Recent tests by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April showed that 20% of retail milk samples contained fragments of the H5N1 virus.

Despite this, confirmed infections in cow herds are limited to just nine states, suggesting that under-testing may be obscuring the true extent of the virus's reach.

In efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, measures such as mandatory footwear coverings and detailed tracking of farm visitor interactions with cattle have been implemented.

Farms are also employing methods like owl scarecrows and noise cannons to deter birds, which are potential carriers of the virus, from contact with livestock.

The concern extends beyond the immediate impact on cow health. The interaction between humans and dairy cows, through activities such as milking and farm management, presents a pathway for potential zoonotic transmission.

The risk of bird flu transitioning to a human-affecting virus remains low, instances of farm workers developing symptoms after contact with infected cows have been reported.

These cases included symptoms ranging from eye irritation to respiratory issues, heightening concerns about the virus's capability to affect humans.

Public health experts emphasize the need for a coordinated response between the agricultural sector and health agencies to effectively manage and mitigate the risks associated with the virus.

The situation remains dynamic, with ongoing monitoring and research essential to understand the behavior of the virus and its implications for both animal and human health.

As the agricultural community navigates this challenge, the priority remains on safeguarding public health while maintaining the stability of the dairy industry.

Continuous updates and adherence to safety protocols are crucial as the situation develops.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-jesp62

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Categories: Indiana, Livestock, Beef Cattle, Dairy Cattle

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