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Outbreak of Avian influenza in dairy cattle


The United States is facing a notable health concern with the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) among dairy cattle, reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This issue has prompted an extensive investigation by federal and state agencies following confirmed cases in Texas, Kansas, and Michigan, with additional presumptive cases in New Mexico, Idaho, and Texas. 

The agencies have identified the HPAI strain as originating from wild birds, noting its similarity in affected states. Despite the potential for human transmission, the risk is deemed low due to the virus's current characteristics and effective public health measures in place. 

A key focus of the response effort is ensuring the safety of the milk supply. The pasteurization process, mandatory for commercial milk, effectively eliminates the influenza virus, ensuring that milk remains safe for consumption. Consequently, there's no impact anticipated on milk availability or pricing for consumers. 

Considering these findings, the FDA advises against the sale and consumption of raw milk from affected or potentially affected cows. The industry is also urged to apply heat treatment to milk intended for calf feeding to ensure the destruction of any harmful pathogens. 

This outbreak has led to reinforced calls for stringent biosecurity practices among dairy farmers and veterinaries, including controlled animal movements and isolation of affected cattle. These steps aim to prevent further spread of the disease within and between herds. 

Federal and state partners are actively working to provide guidance and support to the dairy industry, emphasizing the importance of quick reporting of any cattle illnesses to manage the situation effectively. With ongoing investigations and measures, the USDA, FDA, and CDC are committed to maintaining public health and the integrity of the nation's dairy supply.

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