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Bird Flu Concerns Persist Over Holiday Weekend

by CiCi
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Since the initial report of bird flu in dairy cows on March 25, 2024, ongoing scientific investigations have intensified, yielding weekly updates from experts and researchers.

Farmers and ranchers remain on edge, seeking enhanced measures to safeguard their livestock and gain deeper insights into the virus’s spread. The avian flu, now classified under food-borne diseases with a strong advisory against consuming raw milk, poses ongoing challenges that continue to evolve.

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This week, Scott Hensley, a microbiology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, offered a cautiously optimistic view, stating that while the current pandemic risk is low, it could escalate swiftly.

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Contrasting this, former CDC Director Robert Redfield’s recent warning echoes concerns of an inevitable bird flu pandemic affecting humans, predicting potentially significant mortality.

Recent research published in the July 8th edition of Nature by the University of Wisconsin-Madison highlights dairy cows’ mammary glands as targets for the H5N1 avian virus. These findings, while alarming, suggest broader implications beyond dairy cattle, citing previous instances of the virus affecting other mammals such as mice and ferrets through similar routes.

Despite early experiments indicating limited airborne transmission, the impact on commercial poultry and dairy sectors remains pronounced, particularly evident during the recent Independence Day weekend centered in Colorado. On July 3, another farm worker contracted bird flu linked to dairy cow exposure.

Since early 2022, the CDC has recorded five human cases of bird flu, with current assessments indicating a low public health risk in the U.S., according to CDC statements.

Governor Jared Polis of Colorado declared a disaster for a Weld County farm over the July 4th weekend due to a resurgence of bird flu, claiming another 1.8 million chickens at an egg-laying facility previously affected by the virus. This declaration activates emergency response protocols, mobilizing additional state resources to combat the outbreak.

The situation underscores ongoing challenges in managing and mitigating the spread of bird flu, emphasizing the critical need for continued vigilance and proactive measures within the agricultural sector.

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