Bird Flu Outbreak: Cow Milk May No Longer be Edible Following Detection of Avian Influenza Pathogen in Colorado Dairy Cattle

The bird flu outbreak in the United States has impacted its poultry industry in recent years. The bird-borne disease infected chickens in the country’s backyard and commercial flocks. Variants of avian influenza such as HPAI and H5N1 began spreading in February 2022. Poultry outbreaks have spread in 48 states as of May 2024, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During this period, bird flu spread not only among avians but also to mammals in different parts of the world, including in the remote Antarctic region. Currently, in the US, local authorities reported the detection of the avian influenza pathogen in Colorado dairy cattle, which can make cow milk no longer edible. This comes after some dairy products sampled from grocery stores tested positive.

The current bird flu epidemic is the latest eruption of the pathogen in nearly three decades. The outbreak, which already killed millions of wild birds worldwide, follows the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While avian influenza has been deemed not a major threat to humans, health authorities are still on alert over the possibility of a large-scale zoonotic transmission.


Cow Milk Products Contaminated

Bird Flu Outbreak: Cow Milk May No Longer be Edible Following Detection of Avian Influenza Pathogen in Colorado Dairy Cattle
(Photo : Photo by Ryan Song on Unsplash)

The detection of the contaminated cow milk products was confirmed on April 25 by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL), which is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Particularly, bird flu or HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) was reported on a dairy farm in Colorado, the 9th state with confirmed cases of the bird-borne pathogenic disease.

The Colorado farm is one out of the 35 dairy farms nationwide with confirmed cases of the pathogen in cattle as of May 7, according to the USDA. This is not the first time Colorado incurred a bird flu infection. Since 2022, the state has also experienced a related bird flu outbreak that affected its poultry, with the most recent detection being in February 2024.

In a recent press release, the Colorado Department of Agriculture stated that the NVSL confirmed the presence of HPAI and H5N1 in dairy cows located in northeast Colorado. Initial lead of the infections came after the health authorities received a notification on April 22 of a dairy herd showing symptoms consistent with HPAI in cattle, according to the Colorado officials.

Also Read: Bird Flu Outbreak in Seals Causes Urgent Mitigation Efforts to Slow Down the Virus Spread

Bird Flu Outbreak

The ongoing US bird flu outbreak not only impacted dairy cattle in Colorado but related infections were found among dairy milking cattle in other states like Idaho, Michigan, Kansas, New Mexico, Idaho, South Dakota, and Texas. This is according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Thursday, May 16, which confirmed the presence of the HPAI in livestock.

In its report on Thursday, the CDC announced the detection of avian influenza among 9,352 wild birds and 90.8 million poultry, as well as the detection of bird flu cattle outbreaks in 9 states, including Colorado.

Related Article: Chinese Authorities Says Bird Flu Human Transmission Is Low After Reported Death Of A Woman Infected By The Virus

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