Anonymous Cow Testing Urged to Stop Bird Flu’s Silent Spread 

United States: Recently, it was reported that public health officials are trying to understand better bird flu expansion in cows, which also spills over to humans working in dairy farms. 

More about the news 

According to the reports, many farmers refrain from taking tests of their own, and they are worried about the economic loss that they might have to bear if their cattle are found to be positive for the infection. Health experts also have lingering concerns that the deadly virus could mutate to make humans a much bigger risk. 

As per the former White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha, “We have to find ways of getting more data in a way that protects farmers and, of course, farm workers,” as Axios reported. 

Anonymous Cow Testing Urged to Stop Bird Flu's Silent Spread. Credit | The New York Times
Anonymous Cow Testing Urged to Stop Bird Flu’s Silent Spread. Credit | The New York Times

Need for proper farm testing 

Jha is a member of a small group of public health officials who believe that universities with established relationships with agriculture must pursue to provide testing facilities. 

Jha also confirmed that results coming from individual farms would be anonymized and sent to the US Department of Agriculture (DEA) to give them a picture of the disease spread and the extent to which mutations have taken place. 

As per the experts, the idea is to be vigilant about the infection spread and address it at the source. 

Megan Ranney, the dean of the Yale School of Public Health, said while mentioning it would be on a par with improved wastewater surveillance, “That’s a very rough surveillance tool. Better than what we have right now, but not sufficient,” as Axios reported. 

Infection extent among cattle 

According to USDA data, 140 heads have been lying across twelve states, where cases of H5N1 infection have been reported since March. 

However, as experts state, the actual spread is likely to be on a larger scale, as many warm owners refused to test their cattle. 

However, the prevalence is thought to be higher because many farmers are refusing to test, as Axios reported. 

Jha, who is the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, also mentioned that tests coming out positive would be “financially ruinous” for farms and individual workers, and “It’s not really clear for them what’s why they should engage in this. And I’m very sympathetic to that.” 

Efforts by health officials to prevent the spread 

According to the USDA, it is partnering with states to test farms voluntarily, and a federal order also requires testing of dairy cows before they can cross state lines. 

The federal government also initiated programs to compensate the farmers for losses and expenses in relation to bird flu surveillance.