WHO warns that avian influenza virus has been found in the milk of infected cows in the US

The H5N1 avian influenza virus, which is increasingly being identified in mammals and, more recently, in cattle and goats in the United States, is also was discovered in the analysis of milk from these infected farm animals.The World Health Organization (WHO) warned this Friday.

The head of the WHO’s global influenza prevention program, Zhang Wenqing, said at a press conference that following this discovery, “it is important to ensure food safety practices such as the exclusive consumption of pasteurized dairy products.”

WHO has been closely monitoring cases in the United States since it was notified on April 1 case of H5N1 in a farm worker on a dairy farm in Texas, the first known transmission of the virus from cows to humans.

“In recent outbreaks, transmission from birds to cows or from cows to cows has also been reported (…), suggesting that the virus is finding different routes than previously known,” Zhang said.

“This is alarming, but it also encourages strengthening disease monitoringHe added, noting that WHO is working with the World Organization for Animal Health (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on a possible re-evaluation of the H5N1 virus.

Although cases in humans remain rare (about 900 since 2003), WHO continues to warn about the possible evolution of the virus to allow transmission between people, which could give the disease pandemic potential as the case fatality rate is currently very high. (more than 50% of cases were fatal).

Zhang recalled what has been happening since 2020 “exponential growth” in the number of infections in birdsin addition to affecting an increasing number of mammals, including seals, minks, sea lions and foxes, although the increasing adaptation of the virus to this type of animal has not been confirmed.

Cases of the disease in cows and goats “are another step in the spread of the virus among mammals,” an expert emphasized this Friday, who called for special preventive measures to be taken for workers on farms where cases of the disease have been reported.

“We ask all countries to remain vigilant, promptly report human cases when they occur, share sequencing and other data, and strengthen biosecurity measures on farms,” the WHO expert concluded.

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