Bird Flu Jumps to Cattle, Now Burning Through US Dairy Farms

Bird Flu Jumps to Cattle, Now Burning Through US Dairy Farms

Dairy herds in eight states have been affected by bird flu as the virus spreads.

As of Friday, 26 dairy herds in Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and South Dakota have been affected, according to The Associated Press.

Health officials said consumers should not push the panic button.

“At this time, there continues to be no concern that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health, or that it affects the safety of the interstate commercial milk supply,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement.

The infestation among cattle is the first time the virus has been found in cows.

A Minnesota goat was infected with bird flu this year in an incident in which some goats died.

A federal Department of Agriculture news release concerning Type A H5N1 virus said the spread between cows “cannot be ruled out.”

“Initial testing has not found changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible to humans. While cases among humans in direct contact with infected animals are possible, this indicates that the current risk to the public remains low,” the USDA said.

Barbara Kowalcyk, director of the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition Security at George Washington University, noted that circumstances could change.

Kowalcyk and others cautioned that the situation could change.

“This is an emerging issue and clearly this pathogen is evolving and there’s a lot that we don’t know,” she said. “I do think that everybody is trying to figure it out as quickly as possible.”

To date, four herds in Michigan alone have been infected, according to MLive.

“What is happening with HPAI in Michigan mirrors what is happening in states across the country. This virus does not stop at county or state lines, which is why we must all be on high alert. This news is unfortunate and upsetting for our poultry and dairy farming families and communities,” Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Tim Boring in a statement.

More than 88 million birds have died since bird flu began to spread two years ago.

The USDA release said that the commercial milk supply is safe.

“There continues to be no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply because products are pasteurized before entering the market, or that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health. Dairies are required to send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption; milk from impacted animals is being diverted or destroyed so that it does not enter the human food supply,” the USDA said.

A USDA database said about 4 million birds were infected with bird flu in April in Michigan.

The Food and Drug Administration has said the risk of eating infected eggs is “low.”

In Minnesota, Colette Thorson of Diers Corporation is looking anxiously toward the South Dakota border, fearing the virus will arrive sooner or later.

“There are sound barrier things that you can do that deter birds from being around. And that’s something we are heavily looking into,” she said, according to CBS. “Everything is closed here. Even our own feed sources, generally, is from our field.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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