Bird flu virus found in milk, is of “great concern” to WHO


A recent statement from the World Health Organization is sure to ruffle some feathers.

The international health group has expressed “great concern” over the growing number of cases of bird flu in humans. The organization also announced Friday that the virus had been detected in raw milk.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, chief scientist at the WHO, noted that avian flu, also called H5N1, had an “extremely high” mortality rate among those infected worldwide.

Avian flu has now been identified in raw milk, the WHO announced on Friday. panyawat –

The disease remains extremely rare in the United States, with only two known cases, one occurring earlier this month and one in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In both cases, the infected people worked near livestock.

No human-to-human transmission of the disease has occurred.

“The big concern, of course, is that… (the) virus is now evolving and developing the ability to infect humans. And then what is crucial is the ability to move from human-to-human transmission,” Farrar warned.

On Friday, the WHO further warned that the virus had been detected in raw milk. Officials said drinking pasteurized milk — which is the kind sold in grocery stores in the United States — is still safe. U.S. dairy farmers are also required to destroy milk from infected cows, so it should not end up in the food supply chain.

The WHO has warned that the virus has been detected in raw milk. Drinking pasteurized milk is still safe, officials said. 88studio –

Dr. Wenqing Zhang, who leads the WHO’s global influenza program, said the virus had been identified in a “very high viral concentration in raw milk” from infected cows, according to the Daily Mail. Researchers are still trying to determine how long the virus might survive in milk.

In general, drinking raw milk is always a bad idea, because raw milk can contain other contaminants, like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli, all of which can make you sick.

Cases of avian flu in humans remain very rare, with only two known infections identified in the United States.

Zhang also reiterated that the cases identified in the United States and Europe were relatively mild.

There are two types of avian flu tracked by the CDC: low pathogenic and highly pathogenic. The latter, as you can probably guess, is more serious because it causes a higher mortality rate in poultry, 90-100%, and often within 48 hours. The person in Texas who contracted the disease earlier this month has the highly pathogenic form of the virus.

Since January 2022, the CDC notes that more than 90 million birds have been infected across 48 states. But the current epidemic does not only affect birds, it also affects cattle. Currently, eight states are experiencing outbreaks of avian flu in cattle.

The WHO urged US authorities to monitor the situation closely as the virus could “evolve into transmission in different ways.”

Experts have been warning for years about the risk of a bird flu pandemic, with some saying it could be “100 times worse” than COVID-19. REUTERS

“Do cow milking structures create aerosols? Is it the environment they live in? Is it the transportation system that is spreading this across the country? » asked Farrar. “It’s a major concern and I think we need to… make sure that if H5N1 were to spread to humans through human-to-human transmission, we were able to respond immediately by providing equitable access to vaccines, treatments and to diagnostics. »

This is not the first warning of a possible bird flu pandemic.

Earlier this month, scientists sounded the alarm that such a pandemic could be “100 times worse than COVID.”

“This virus (has) been at the top of the pandemic list for many, many years and probably decades,” said Pittsburgh avian flu researcher Dr. Suresh Kuchipudi, according to the Daily Mail.

The only hope, officials continued, is that the virus is less deadly in humans than in birds.

“Once it mutates to infect humans, we can only hope that the (mortality rate) goes down,” John Fulton, a vaccine consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, said, according to the Mail.

Between 2003 and 2019, 861 cases of bird flu were identified worldwide and 455 people died from it, meaning the mortality rate is nearly 53%, according to the CDC.

Should a pandemic arise, the Food and Drug Administration has a few vaccines for humans, Forbes reported. Currently, there aren’t enough to protect all Americans, and the CDC has already said it would take “months” and a multi-step process to create enough in the event of a pandemic.

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