May 22, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Avian influenza virus found in cow's milk

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Following the discovery of high concentrations of the H5N1 virus in the milk of cows infected with avian influenza in the United States, the World Health Organization today recommended food safety measures.

Research is currently being conducted to determine how long the virus can survive in milk, and WHO urged everyone to be vigilant. “Although research is ongoing, it is important that people eat a safe diet, such as drinking only pasteurized milk,” said Dr. Wenqing Zhang, head of the WHO's global influenza program. “We are now seeing that many cow herds are infected in more and more states in the US, indicating that this is a new phase in the spread of the virus among mammals,” he added.

Texas health authorities where was First case of cow-to-human transmission discovered, emphasized that there is no risk for consumers, since milk from sick cattle is necessarily destroyed. Pasteurization, the heat treatment of milk, kills the virus.

Outbreaks of the A(H5N1) virus among humans are rare and are associated with contact with sick animals or contaminated environments. For now there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted from person to personbut scientists are concerned that its spread will contribute to the emergence of a mutation.

From the beginning of 2023 to 1 April 2024, WHO recorded a total of 889 cases of avian influenza in humans in 23 countries. Of these, 463 people died, i.e. the mortality rate is 52%.

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