ALERT: H5N1 Bird Flu Traces Detected in US Milk Samples! 

United States: Inactive bird flu traces have been discovered in pasteurized milk samples collected across the US, as stated the health officials on Tuesday. 

Health officials across the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest that bird flu has been causing infection in many dairy cows, more than the officials have reported. 

The agency stresses that still, “to date, we have seen nothing that would change our assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe,” as the US News reported. 

The danger posed by H5N1 virus 

Last month came the reports of cases from nine states across the US among dairy cattle, where H5N1 bird flu virus have been detected. 

H5N1 Bird Flu Traces Detected in US Milk Samples. Credit | GETTY IMAGES
H5N1 Bird Flu Traces Detected in US Milk Samples. Credit | GETTY IMAGES

Additionally, similar infection cases have also been reported in one farm worker who had pink eye symptoms. 

Virus strains found in milk 

According to the New York Times, David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated that the virus strain found in milk is likely to pose a risk to those who consume milk. 

He explained, “The risk of getting infected from milk that has viral fragments in it should be nil,” and, “The genetic material can’t replicate on its own.” 

However, FDA officials have not disclosed more details about the quantity of milk samples tested positive or about the sources of those samples, as the Times reported. 

According to the experts, if the fragments are discovered throughout the commercial dairy milk supply, then that would indicate that the number of infected cows is much higher than what the official record states. 

H5N1 Bird Flu Traces Detected in US Milk Samples. Credit | GETTY IMAGES
H5N1 Bird Flu Traces Detected in US Milk Samples. Credit | GETTY IMAGES

O’Connor said, “The problem in dairy cows might be much bigger than we know,” and, “That would be the concern — not that the milk itself would be a risk.” 

According to the FDA statement, the officials are yet to wait for more sample results, which will further decide the severity of infection spread throughout the milk samples. 

Pasteurization inactivates flu viruses 

According to the Times reports, most of farm milk in the United States is pasteurized, through which the germs are killed when put under high temperatures. 

As per the experts, pasteurization should also help in inactivating viruses, which are known to be highly heat-sensitive and fragile. 

However, according to the Times report, the risks of H5N1 cannot be ignored yet since more testing of pasteurization’s effectiveness on H5N1 is still being done. 

Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, reported that it would be “very critical” for the health experts to exactly and clearly let the news communicate about the final result of the ongoing testing in order to educate the consumer to implement the following concerning steps. 

However, the experts yet to urge people to keep the calm. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota said, “With a virus like this, I would have to believe even if you had the highest levels of virus activity, you could ever imagine in the actual milk from the udder of an infected cow, it would be diluted millions of times over going into pasteurization. 

Moreover, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, director of the Boston University Center on Emerging Infectious Diseases said, since the ingested milk is also further broken down by our body’s digestive and inmmune systems, therefore, “I wouldn’t worry about [viral] remnants,” and, “As long it’s not a live virus, it is unlikely that there’s any health risks.”