in ,

HPAI Bird Flu, Milk Safety | What You Need to Know

hpai and dairy milk

What is HPAI &
How Does it Affect Dairy Cows?

Source: FDA

HPAI Avian Influenza Outbreak in Dairy Cattle: A Cause for Concern?

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza – HPAI, also known as bird flu, has recently been detected in dairy cows across several states in the US. This has understandably raised concerns about the safety of the milk supply. This article dives deep into the ongoing efforts to ensure milk safety amidst this outbreak and the science behind pasteurization’s effectiveness against HPAI viruses.

What is HPAI and How Does it Affect Dairy Cows?

HPAI viruses (H5 and H7 strains) are highly contagious and often deadly in poultry. While bird flu viruses don’t typically infect humans, sporadic cases have occurred. This recent outbreak marks the first time HPAI has been found in dairy cattle. The infected cows experience decreased milk production, reduced appetite, and other symptoms.

The Importance of Milk Safety: Pasteurization to the Rescue

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emphasize that the commercial milk supply remains safe despite the HPAI outbreak in dairy cows. This assurance rests on two key factors:

  1. Pasteurization: This well-established process heats milk to a specific temperature for a set time, effectively eliminating harmful bacteria and viruses. Available scientific data, including research on pasteurization’s impact on other viruses, strongly suggests its effectiveness against HPAI viruses like H5N1 in milk.

  2. Diversion or Destruction of Milk from Sick Cows: Milk from cows exhibiting HPAI symptoms is not included in the commercial milk supply. It’s either diverted for non-human consumption or destroyed altogether.

hpai and dairly milk safety
Learn how pasteurization keeps your milk safe

Ongoing Research for Continuous Milk Safety Monitoring

While pasteurization offers a strong defense, additional research is underway to gain a deeper understanding of HPAI’s behavior in milk. This research includes:

  • Laboratory Testing: Scientists are studying how pasteurization affects HPAI viruses in milk samples from affected herds.
  • Real-World Scenario Testing: Milk samples are being tested that replicate the commercial milk processing environment, including pooling milk from multiple farms before pasteurization.
  • National Sample Analysis: A large-scale national study is being conducted to assess the presence of HPAI viruses in commercially available milk.

Learn Should You Eat Eggs? Bird Flu Food Safety Tips Explained

Transparency and Collaboration: Key to Public Trust

The FDA acknowledges the evolving nature of this situation and is committed to transparency. They are actively collaborating with the CDC, state partners, and scientific institutions to:

  • Gather and analyze data on HPAI and milk safety.
  • Continuously assess the effectiveness of pasteurization against HPAI.
  • Share research findings promptly as they become available.

Learn Monkeypox cases confirmed in 58 countries; Explore Now

Understanding Test Results: qPCR vs. Gold Standard Testing

The article clarifies the different testing methods used in HPAI detection:

  • Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR): This screening tool identifies the genetic material of an organism, but a positive result doesn’t necessarily indicate active, infectious virus.

  • Embryonated Egg Viability Studies: Considered the “gold standard,” this test injects a sample into a chicken egg to see if the virus replicates, confirming its active and infectious nature. This method takes longer than qPCR but provides definitive results.

Learn Bird Flu Pandemic Fear: 50% Mortality Rate?

Recommendations for Raw Milk Consumption

The FDA strongly advises against consuming raw, unpasteurized milk due to the potential presence of various pathogens, including HPAI viruses.

Conclusion: Science-Based Safety Measures Ensure Milk Supply Remains Safe

The HPAI outbreak in dairy cows, while concerning, doesn’t compromise the safety of the commercial milk supply. Pasteurization remains highly effective against HPAI viruses, and additional research is ongoing for even greater assurance. The collaborative efforts of the FDA, USDA, CDC, and scientists nationwide ensure continuous monitoring and swift action to maintain milk safety.

Learn Lumpy Skin Disease Outbreak in India | Explore More

Written by Dr. Evelyn Karen

Dr. Evelyn Karen is a highly regarded Internal Medicine Physician with over 20 years of experience in Manila. Dr. Karen is passionate about patient well-being and champions innovative practices, including integrative medicine, telemedicine, and community outreach.

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. The ‘myth-busting’ section was so helpful! Cleared up some misconceptions I had about self-improvement. Keep it up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *