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Bird Flu spreads to Florida dairy cattle, raising pandemic concerns

USA 27.06.2024
Source: Dairynews.today
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Health experts are concerned about the potential for a bird flu strain spreading among humans, potentially leading to a pandemic, as it has now affected dairy cattle in the United States. Benjamin Anderson, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida, highlights the risk posed to individuals consuming unpasteurized milk, which could facilitate the virus's adaptation to humans.
Bird Flu spreads to Florida dairy cattle, raising pandemic concerns

"We're seeing a convergence of factors that increase the likelihood of human-to-human transmission," Anderson cautioned. "Current conditions are creating elevated risks for such a scenario."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of June 18th, over 100 cattle herds across 12 states have been infected, according to findings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Jona Bosques, a livestock agent at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, downplayed the risk of dairy cows in Florida contracting the disease and spreading it to humans.

"No cases of cattle contracting the virus have been reported so far," Bosques assured. "In Florida, our dairy farms maintain stringent biosecurity protocols and prioritize animal welfare."

Bosques advised against consuming unpasteurized milk without prior boiling and urged travelers to refrain from visiting dairy farms outside their state.

"We uphold rigorous standards in Florida for dairy production," Bosques emphasized. "Our producers are dedicated to maintaining the health and safety of their animals, ensuring a robust and sustainable industry."

Experts also cautioned pet owners against feeding unpasteurized milk to their pets, especially those exposed to wild birds or other livestock.

"If pet owners notice any unusual clinical symptoms in their animals, they should promptly consult a veterinarian," Anderson advised.

The CDC reported minor symptoms in three farmworkers who contracted the virus from dairy cows in the U.S., ranging from eye irritation to respiratory issues.

Anderson called for increased government support to safeguard farmworkers and enhance surveillance efforts against the virus.

"We need greater resources allocated to protect farmers economically from the impact on their livelihoods," Anderson stressed.

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