FDA Detects Bird Flu Virus in Dairy Cows: No Risk to Consumers


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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that samples of pasteurised milk have tested positive for remnants of the bird flu virus, which has been found in infected dairy cows. The FDA emphasized that the detected material is inactivated and does not pose a risk to consumers.


The detection of the bird flu virus in dairy cows comes after an avian influenza outbreak affecting millions of wild and commercial birds across various states. The Agriculture Department reported cases in at least eight states, with 33 herds affected so far.

Findings and Response

The FDA conducted tests on milk samples obtained during processing and from grocery stores. The PCR lab test used by the FDA can detect viral genetic material even after pasteurisation. However, there is no evidence that the detected virus remnants are infectious. The FDA and USDA confirmed that milk from affected cows did not enter the commercial supply and that regulations require pasteurisation for milk in interstate commerce.

The FDA stated that while there are currently no completed studies on the effects of pasteurisation on the H5N1 virus, past research suggests that pasteurisation is likely to inactivate heat-sensitive viruses like H5N1. The International Dairy Foods Association reassured that time and temperature regulations in pasteurisation ensure the safety of the US milk supply.

Scientists identified the H5N1 virus in dairy cows in March following reports of a mysterious illness affecting cows in Texas. Most infected cattle recovered within two weeks, although the virus is lethal to commercial poultry. To date, there have been two cases of bird flu infection in the US, with individuals showing mild symptoms and recovering.

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