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Limited Testing For Bird Flu Leaves Safety Questions Unanswered

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Bird Flu
Cows graze at a dairy farm in La Grange, Texas, that sells raw milk to the public.

(CTN News) – Bird Flu is still spreading among dairy herds, therefore raw milk is under inspection.

A bird-killing disease has infected at least 58 dairy cattle herds in nine states and two humans. USDA tests found the virus in unpasteurized milk.

Even though the federal government advises against eating raw milk, it’s widely available in many states.

On May 8, NPR reported that some farms selling unpasteurized raw milk declined to have their supply tested after reporters bought some and mailed it in. Bird Flu in cows was first detected in Texas and has been diagnosed in over a dozen herds.

When the farmers refused to let the USDA-approved lab test the milk for H5N1, the lab refused too. The lab called farms to request milk research authorization.

According to Brandon Dominguez, head of the Veterinary Services department at Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station, “[The farms] are aware of what a nonnegative test would do to their business.” “They requested that the test not be conducted.”

Another reason the Texas A&M lab couldn’t test was because reporters hadn’t provided the farms’ premise identification numbers, said director Amy Swinford. This was in response to NPR reporting that the USDA confirmed laboratories do not need farm consent to test milk samples for avian flu. Reporters included farm license numbers when submitting samples for testing, but such numbers are private.

Raw milk advocates and opponents argue hard. Without evidence, all sides of the raw milk debate are defending their perspectives. While dangers are high and the transfer of Bird Flu from dairy cows to humans is unknown, public health and academic experts advise measures to be taken.

According to the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s chief Don Prater, “pasteurization is effective in inactivating the virus.” Prater advised the industry not to sell raw milk or raw milk products made with milk from sick cows, including those infected with avian influenza. Neither raw milk nor unpasteurized milk should be consumed.

Raw milk is available, but not recommended.

Raw milk is easy to get in Texas. Drive to one of the state’s many raw milk dairies’ farmhouse stoops or buy it at an Austin fitness club. The cow there will give you a cold gallon of milk if you put money in a lockbox. The milk has never been boiled to kill bacteria and other microbes.

Concerned about the bird flu,

Cheryl Masraum bought raw milk from Stryk Jersey Farm near Schulenburg, Texas, between Houston and San Antonio.

Masraum said “We were keeping an eye on that, but it didn’t seem to be a threat here.” Cow epidemics occurred in northwest Texas near New Mexico. “It tastes better and is usually of higher quality when it comes to raw milk,”

Masraum is a rare yet dedicated raw milk drinker in America. A Food and Drug Administration survey indicated that 1.6% of American adults drink unpasteurized milk.

The Bird Flu outbreak in dairy animals has prompted federal health experts to advise against eating raw milk.

Public health authorities have long advised against consuming raw milk due to pathogenic germs. Pasteurized milk kills or inactivates bacteria.

Bird flu is unlikely to spread via raw milk. At the news conference, FDA’s Prater said, “There aren’t a lot of studies showing infectivity related to this virus and raw milk products.”

How much bird flu is in milk?

The FDA found Bird Flu virus particles in 20% of pasteurized grocery store samples in a recent survey. FDA tests proved such viral bits could not infect anyone.

The federal authorities says diseased cows are spreading the illness between herds. By 2023, H5N1 has spread from birds to Texas dairy cows, according to current hypothesis. Then, on May 10, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters, “the transportation of cattle from Texas to a number of other states basically created problems in those states.”

Vilsack said the USDA’s objective is to “try to contain the spread and eventually allow for specific herds to have the virus peter out” by requiring cows to test negative before crossing state lines.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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