Bird flu spreads to dairy cows

A form of avian flu that is highly fatal in birds has been confirmed in US dairy cows in Texas and Kansas. This was announced by the Ministry of Agriculture On Monday.

It is the first time cows infected with the virus have been identified.

The cows appeared to have been infected by wild birds, and dead birds were reported on some farms, the agency said. The Texas Animal Health Commission confirmed that the influenza subtype known as H5N1 had been identified and said the virus was similar to the version that has spread in birds nationwide.

The findings were announced after several federal and state agencies began investigating reports of sick cows in Texas, Kansas and New Mexico. The disease primarily affects older cows and causes symptoms such as reduced appetite, fever and a sudden drop in milk production. To date, there have been few or no reports of deaths in affected herds, according to the USDA.

In several cases, the virus was detected in unpasteurized milk samples from sick cows. Pasteurization should inactivate the flu virus, experts said, and officials stressed that the milk supply was safe.

“At this time, there are no concerns about the safety of the commercial milk supply or that this circumstance poses a risk to the health of consumers,” the agency said in a statement.

Outside experts agreed. “It was only found in severely abnormal milk,” said Dr. Jim Lowe, a veterinarian and flu researcher at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana-Champaign.

In these cases the milk was described as thick and syrupy and was discarded. The agency said dairies are required to divert or destroy milk from sick animals.

The cattle infections follow the country’s first detection of highly pathogenic bird flu in goats This was announced by Minnesota officials last week.

To date, flu samples from sick cows have not contained any genetic mutations known to…

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