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FDA Outlines Research Priorities for Avian Influenza Impacting U.S. Dairy Cattle

USA 26.06.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published an outline of its research priorities for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1, first detected in U.S. dairy cattle in March 2024 and now reported in multiple states. Given the novel presentation of influenza in dairy cattle, the FDA aims to address significant research needs to safeguard human and animal health.
FDA Outlines Research Priorities for Avian Influenza Impacting U.S. Dairy Cattle
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In collaboration with federal and state partners, the FDA is employing a step-by-step approach to scientifically analyze the safety of commercial milk amidst the ongoing HPAI H5N1 outbreak affecting North American dairy cattle. Preliminary results from the FDA’s initial assessment continue to affirm the safety of the milk supply. However, ongoing activities are necessary to maintain the efficacy of the federal-state milk safety system.

The FDA’s research agenda, developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) U.S. National Poultry Research Center and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS’) National Veterinary Services Laboratory, as well as various universities, comprises three main objectives:

Objective 1: Understand Characteristics of Inactivation Methods for H5N1 Dairy Products

This objective will focus on determining the pasteurization temperature thresholds and durations required to neutralize H5N1 HPAI effectively. Efforts include:

Testing Pre-Pasteurization Milk Samples: Collecting and analyzing raw milk samples to characterize potential virus levels before pasteurization.
Benchtop Thermal Inactivation Kinetics Studies: Using benchtop equipment to estimate the time and temperature needed to inactivate the H5N1 HPAI virus in milk and milk products.

Continuous Flow Pasteurization Studies: Employing continuous flow pasteurization equipment reflective of commercial use to confirm effective pasteurization parameters.

Raw Milk Cheese Aging: Assessing the survival of H5N1 HPAI virus in raw milk cheeses under various aging parameters.

Objective 2: Determine the Safety of Retail Dairy Products

The FDA is conducting sampling and testing of retail milk and dairy products to evaluate the survival of H5N1 HPAI virus post-commercial processing. A second round of nationally representative sampling is ongoing, testing approximately 155 dairy products, including fluid milk, aged raw milk cheese, pasteurized milk and cheeses, cream cheese, butter, and ice cream. This phase aims to provide a comprehensive view by including samples from various regions and states.

Objective 3: One Health Interventions for HPAI H5N1

The FDA is developing a One Health strategy to mitigate the impact of H5N1 HPAI virus. This includes interventions to prevent, control, or eliminate H5N1 HPAI in animals, milk, and the environment. Examples of these strategies include decreasing the impact of H5N1 HPAI, controlling its spread, and exploring alternative viral inactivation and disposal methods for discarded milk.

Through these research objectives, the FDA aims to ensure the continued safety of the U.S. milk supply while addressing the novel challenges presented by HPAI H5N1 in dairy cattle.
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