US food safety regulators extend avian flu testing to dairy products

Leah Douglas and Julie Steenhuisen

June 25 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun testing more dairy products for the presence of the avian influenza virus as outbreaks spread through dairy herds around the world.

Since March, more than 120 dairy herds in 12 states have tested positive for avian influenza, according to the Department of Agriculture. Federal officials have warned that further spread among dairy cows could increase the risk of infection in humans.

Additional testing is aimed at ensuring that pasteurization inactivates the virus, said Don Prater, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Previous FDA testing of 297 retail dairy product samples tested negative for the virus.

The agency continues to strongly discourage the consumption of raw dairy products, Prater said.

Demetre Daskalakis, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said more than 690 people who had contact with infected or suspected infected animals were tested for flu-like symptoms, and 51 people became ill with the flu. -similar symptoms have been verified.

Three dairy workers tested positive for the virus with mild symptoms of respiratory illness or conjunctivitis, and all have recovered.

The risk of bird flu to the public remains low, although it is higher for dairy farm workers, who must wear personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of infection, federal officials said.

(Editing by Carlos Serrano in Spanish)

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