Bird Flu Spreads to US Cattle, Goats

Commercial milk supply is said to be safe, though, per officials
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2024 11:10 AM CDT
Bird Flu Spreads to US Cattle, Goats
Dairy cattle feed at a farm on March 31, 2017, near Vado, New Mexico.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

A week after officials in Minnesota said bird flu had been found for the first time in US livestock—specifically, goats living on a farm with infected poultry—the virus has been found to have spread to dairy cows in Texas and Kansas, per the AP. The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was found in "unpasteurized, clinical samples of milk from sick cattle collected from two dairy farms in Kansas and one in Texas, as well as an oropharyngeal swab from another dairy in Texas," the Department of Agriculture said Monday, noting dead wild birds had been found on farm properties. The department said cows in New Mexico are also showing signs of illness, though tests apparently haven't confirmed HPAI is present.

In Texas, impacted cattle show "flu-like symptoms including fever and thick and discolored milk, accompanied by a sharp reduction in milk production," said state agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Though affected milk is being dumped, the impact is considered too limited to affect the price of dairy items, per the Washington Post. The infected cows are expected to recover within seven to 10 days. Federal officials added that the commercial milk supply is safe, as the pasteurization process, required for milk sent out of state, would kill the virus in any overlooked milk. However, there's concern for those who might legally buy unpasteurized milk in both Texas and Kansas. As of now, officials see no sign of changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible to humans. (More bird flu stories.)

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