A extremely deadly type of avian influenza, or chicken flu, has been confirmed in U.S. cattle in Texas and Kansas, the Department of Agriculture announced on Monday.

It’s the first time that cows contaminated with the virus have been recognized.

The cows seem to have been contaminated by wild birds, and lifeless birds have been reported on some farms, the company stated. The outcomes have been introduced after a number of federal and state businesses started investigating studies of sick cows in Texas, Kansas and New Mexico.

In a number of instances, the virus was detected in unpasteurized samples of milk collected from sick cows. As a result of pasteurization kills viruses, officers emphasised that there was little danger to the nation’s milk provide.

“At this stage, there is no such thing as a concern concerning the security of the industrial milk provide or that this circumstance poses a danger to client well being,” the company stated in an announcement.

Outdoors consultants agreed. “It has solely been present in milk that’s grossly irregular,” stated Dr. Jim Lowe, a veterinarian and influenza researcher on the Faculty of Veterinary Medication on the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In these instances, the milk was described as thick and syrupy, he stated, and was discarded. The company stated that dairies are required to divert or destroy milk from sick animals.

The cattle infections come on the heels of the nation’s first detection of extremely pathogenic chicken flu in goats, which was announced by Minnesota officials last week.

Up to now, the flu samples from sick cows haven’t contained genetic mutations which can be recognized to make the virus extra prone to infect people, the agriculture company stated, including that the chance to most people remained low.

“There’s nonetheless no trigger to panic,” stated Stacey L. Schultz-Cherry, a virologist and influenza skilled at St. Jude Kids’s Analysis Hospital. “It simply seems prefer it’s one other spillover occasion resulting from contact with diseased wild birds.”

Nonetheless, she famous, cows weren’t considered among the many species that have been significantly vulnerable to avian influenza, and the instances have been one other worrisome flip in a worldwide chicken flu outbreak that has devastated wild chicken populations over the previous few years.

The outbreak has been attributable to a brand new type of chicken flu virus, often called H5N1, that emerged in Europe in 2020. Wild birds can unfold the virus, by way of their feces and oral secretions, to farmed poultry and different animals. Outbreaks typically flare up within the spring and summer season, when migrating birds are on the transfer.

Though avian influenza viruses are tailored to unfold primarily amongst birds, the brand new model of H5N1 has grow to be so widespread in wild birds that it has additionally repeatedly unfold to mammals, particularly scavenging species, corresponding to foxes, which may feed on contaminated birds.

Infections of mammals, which give the virus new alternatives to evolve, are all the time a supply of some concern, Andrew Bowman, a molecular epidemiologist and influenza skilled at Ohio State College, stated. Scientists have lengthy been involved {that a} chicken flu virus that advanced to unfold extra effectively amongst mammals, together with people, may set off the subsequent pandemic.

At this level, Dr. Bowman stated, it stays unclear whether or not the contaminated cows have all picked up the virus straight from birds or whether or not the virus can also be spreading from cow to cow.

“That’s a query that’s going to must get resolved rapidly,” he stated. “If we now have transmission cattle to cattle, that’s a special story. That definitely makes me a bit extra nervous.”

Further testing and evaluation are underway. “This can be a quickly evolving state of affairs, and U.S.D.A. and federal and state companions will proceed to share extra updates as quickly as info turns into obtainable,” the company stated.

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