Avian influenza virus in cow’s milk – Telemundo Miami (51)

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that fragments of the avian influenza virus have been found in some samples of pasteurized milk in the United States. While the agency says the milk is safe to drink, it notes that it is still waiting for research results to confirm this.

The results come less than a month after an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza was first detected in dairy cow herds in several states. It has since been found in herds in eight states.

The FDA is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Agriculture to investigate the outbreak.

Fragments of the virus were detected when samples of pasteurized milk were analyzed, the FDA said. A testing method called PCR testing looks for pieces of genetic material; A positive result does not mean that a live, infectious virus has been detected.

“Based on available information, pasteurization is likely to inactivate the virus, but the process is not expected to eliminate the presence of viral particles,” the agency said in a statement. “To date, we have not seen anything that would change our assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe.”

The FDA specifically tests whether pasteurization inactivates avian influenza in cow’s milk. Results will be available in “the coming days or weeks,” he said.

As part of the testing, the company will use so-called egg inoculation tests, considered the gold standard for determining the infectivity of a sample: a small amount of contaminated milk is injected into a chicken egg and the virus is monitored to see if the virus is active and begins to multiply.

Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he was not surprised by the preliminary results.

“If you test most milk, you will also find E. coli, listeria and other microorganisms, but they will all be dead. Pasteurization doesn’t destroy them, it just kills them,” he said. That is, dead particles are unlikely to cause human illness.

“From a flu perspective, I wouldn’t have a problem drinking milk tonight,” Osterholm said. “My grandchildren could drink milk tonight.”

However, he said there is not enough information from the USDA on this issue. More data is needed to fully understand what is happening with the current avian influenza virus in dairy cows.

“We need a lot of additional information that hasn’t come in yet,” Osterholm said. “We don’t know the epidemiology of these farms. We don’t know how many farms there are, how many samples there are. “We were very worried.”

Chilean authorities are warning the public not to touch animals that are found dead or exhibiting strange behavior.

The FDA said it also advised dairy producers to take precautions when discarding milk from sick cows to ensure that discarded milk does not become a source of infection.

One person is infected in the current outbreak. The man, a Texas dairy farm worker, had a mild form of the disease and only developed conjunctivitis or conjunctivitis.

A senior CDC official also said the agency is monitoring the situation for signs of unusual illnesses in people and has found none other than the Texas case.

However, the virus remains a cause for concern among health officials given its particularly high fatality rate of about 50%. Bird flu is not easily transmitted from person to person, but there are fears that as it spreads among cows, it could mutate into a version that spreads more easily between people. There is no evidence yet that this happened, according to the CDC.

The case was identified in Colorado.

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