ALERT: Human Flu Receptors Found in Cows, Raising H5N1 Risk! 

United States: Recently, various cases of mastitis in cows, an infection of the udder, have come to light, according to health experts. 

Experts say that the milk of the cows appeared to be thickened and discolored, a reason which cannot be explained by any usual suspects, such as bacteria or tissue damage. 

How was the infection identified? 

When the samples from infected sick or dead animals were sent to the Texas A&M State Veterinary lab, they found loads of the H5N1 influenza virus, causing a huge impact on the dairy industry and putting public health officials on high alert. 

Why is the infection spreading in cows? 

In order to understand that, the researchers from the US and Denmark performed research and published their findings as a preprint study. They represented that cows have the same receptors for flu viruses as in humans and birds. This revelation has made scientists worried cows might act as hosts, helping the virus learn to better transmit between people. 

Human Flu Receptors Found in Cows, Raising H5N1 Risk. Credit | Getty Images
Human Flu Receptors Found in Cows, Raising H5N1 Risk. Credit | Getty Images

Therefore, as per the experts, such rare events can lead us on the path of another pandemic. 

More about H5N1 or avian flu viruses 

For years now, the H5N1, or highly pathogenic avian influenza, has been primarily confined to the bird population. However, it recently began to infect a leading range of mammals, indicating that the virus might be mutating to adapt and become more closely a human pathogen. 

According to CNN Health, in the United States, bird flu viruses have razed off commercial poultry flocks in huge numbers, and since pigs are known to contract this virus, they have been closely examined for signs of infection. Therefore, cows were not under the radar of scientists to have a closer look for the virus. 

Cases of infection in the US 

According to the US Department of Agriculture report, there have been 42 cases of infection among herds placed in nine states since late March. 

Moreover, in humans, only one case of infection from H5N1 has been found after the individual came into contact with infected cows. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the present risk from the infection is below the dangerous level, and it is working on with states to monitor people with animal exposures. 

Dr. Lars Larsen, a professor of veterinary clinical microbiology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said, “The finding in cattle has been so different,” as CNN Health reported. 

In the case of mammals, influenza mainly impacts the lungs. However, in cats, it can also infect the brain. Additionally, “Here we see an enormous amount of virus in the mammary and in the milk,” Larsen added.