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FDA Detects H5N1 Avian Flu In Milk Samples

Signage is seen outside of FDA headquarters in White Oak, Maryland

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced the detection of viral particles of H5N1 avian influenza in milk sold at grocery stores. Despite this finding, the FDA maintains that the milk is safe for consumption.

The agency believes that the detected viral particles are likely remnants of viruses destroyed during the pasteurization process, as indicated by highly sensitive lab tests. Additional tests are being conducted to confirm that the particles are not infectious to humans.

Dr. Eric Topol, founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, expressed concerns that the outbreak may be more widespread than previously thought, highlighting the need for further assessment.

The USDA confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy cows in Texas and Kansas, marking the first instance of the virus affecting cattle. Infected cows exhibited changes in milk quality, prompting investigations into the spread of the virus among animals.

The FDA reassured consumers that milk from sick cows is being managed appropriately, with pasteurization processes effectively eliminating pathogens. While pasteurization does not render milk completely sterile, it significantly reduces health risks associated with consuming raw milk.

Efforts to track the outbreak have relied on voluntary reporting, with concerns raised about the potential spread of the virus to other livestock, particularly pigs. Experts warn that pigs could serve as efficient carriers for the virus to adapt to human receptors.

The CDC is closely monitoring flu-like illness data in areas affected by the outbreak, with no significant trends or activities reported thus far. Testing and surveillance measures are being discussed to prevent further transmission of the virus.

While no widespread screening of cows or individuals has been implemented, the USDA encourages reporting of sick cattle to prevent the escalation of the outbreak. Continued vigilance and collaboration among health agencies are crucial in containing the spread of H5N1 avian influenza.

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