bird flu

Bird Flu Strikes US Dairy Cows for the First Time: Unprecedented Outbreak Raises Concerns

Bird Flu Found in US Dairy Cows for First Time: USDA Confirms Outbreak in Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed on Monday, March 25, that bird flu has been detected in dairy cows in Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico.

Milk from cows in Kansas and Texas tested positive for avian influenza, marking the first instance of bird flu in livestock.

US health officials reassure the public that the commercial milk supply remains safe.

According to the New York Times, the USDA stated, “At this stage, there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply or that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health.”

Influenza expert Stacey L. Schultz-Cherry emphasized that there is no need to panic, attributing the outbreak to contact with diseased wild birds.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that these viruses typically do not infect humans.

The Texas Animal Health Commission identified the flu virus as type ‘A H5N1’.

Older cows in Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico are primarily affected, showing symptoms such as loss of appetite, changes in manure consistency, and decreased milk production.

Milk from infected cows is being either destroyed or redirected in avian influenza dairy cattle.

Bird Flu Reaches Cattle; Virus Found In Milk From 3 States

bird flu

USDA: Avian Influenza Detected in Unpasteurized Milk from Three States

USDA officials report that avian influenza has been found in unpasteurized milk from three states. While the risk to consumers remains low, the spread to livestock signals a significant development in the ongoing bird flu situation avian influenza dairy cattle

The federal government reassured that its tests on the cattle did not identify any mutations in the virus that could enhance its transmissibility to humans.

Concerns among dairy farmers in Texas arose three weeks ago when cattle started displaying symptoms of what officials dubbed as the ‘mystery dairy cow disease,’ according to Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Milk production declined sharply, and the cows exhibited lethargy and reduced appetite.

Commissioner Miller stated, ‘We hadn’t encountered anything like it before. It was akin to them having a cold.’

Following these alarming developments, the state’s animal health commission initiated an investigation, which included screenings for bird flu, as stated by spokeswoman Erin Robinson. USDA officials, based on Texas’s findings, speculate that the virus was transmitted to the cows from infected wild birds

According to experts, livestock typically recover within seven to 10 days without intervention, a departure from bird flu outbreaks in poultry, which often require culling entire flocks to contain the virus. Since 2022, approximately 82 million wild and commercial birds in the U.S. have been affected by outbreaks.

Currently, the virus seems to be infecting around 10% of lactating dairy cows in affected herds, notes Michael Payne, a food animal veterinarian and biosecurity expert at the University of California-Davis Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.

Payne remarked, ‘This situation differs significantly from high-path influenza outbreaks in bird flocks.

Dairy industry representatives have announced the implementation of enhanced biosecurity measures on U.S. farms, such as reducing traffic and restricting visits to essential personnel only.

Michael Payne highlighted that bird flu has been documented in 48 mammal species before, suggesting that its transmission to ruminants was inevitable.

Bird Flu Spreads to Dairy Cows

US regulators have verified cases of avian influenza in sick cattle in Texas, Kansas, and potentially New Mexico. They emphasize that the nation’s milk supply remains secure.

The Department of Agriculture announced on Monday that a highly fatal form of avian influenza has been confirmed in US dairy cattle in Texas and Kansas, marking the first known instance of cows infected with the virus.

According to the agency, the cows seem to have contracted the virus from wild birds, with reports of dead birds on some farms. The Texas Animal Health Commission confirmed the presence of the H5N1 influenza subtype and noted that the virus closely resembled the strain circulating among birds nationwide