United States: Continuous rising cases of bird flu among dairy cows in several states of the United States have led the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to announce on Wednesday that it would mandate testing of the animals moving across state lines. 

More about the announcement 

The “USDA has identified [bird flu] spread between cows within the same herd, spread from cows to poultry, spread between dairies associated with cattle movements and cows without clinical signs that have tested positive,” as the US News reported. 

The agency further stated, “To further protect the U.S. livestock industry from the threat posed by highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza, [the] USDA is sharing a number of actions that we are taking with our federal partners to help us get ahead of this disease and limit its spread.” 

Lactating bovine, now, has to be tested negative for the influenza A viruses, a group that are also carried by birds, at the point of leaving a state, stated in the new order. 

USDA Mandates Testing of Bird Flu Spreads Among Dairy Cows. Credit | Getty Images
USDA Mandates Testing of Bird Flu Spreads Among Dairy Cows. Credit | Getty Images

These cows will be forced to undergo tests and in the case where the said tests turn positive, the herd owners will be required to give investigators data on the movements of those cattle for tracking purposes. 

Mike Watson, the administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the new provision should help control the virus spread and hence help officials “better understand this disease.” 

When did the bird flu spread begin in the US? 

It all started when a more transmissible variety of bird flu was reported in the US in early 2022. Federal authorities have repeatedly stated that Americans are not a potential target, but they should be prepared for any emergency. 

However, the top officials of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged on Tuesday that traces of the inactive viral fragments had been found in the milk that was pasteurized, implying that the virus has been spreading more widely in the dairy cattle population than had been expected previously, as the US News reported. 

The results of tests to determine whether any live virus is in the milk supply are expected in the coming days, FDA officials added. 

The test results showing the presence or absence of any live virus in the milk are expected soon, FDA officials explained. 

Has the prevailing virus strain mutated? 

To this day, there is no reported change in the structure of the virus with the possibility of transmitting it efficiently from one man to another, Dr. Nirav Shah, principal deputy director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Wednesday according to the Times. 

The states are now keenly examining 44 people who were exposed to the virus, Shah reiterated. 

In total, 33 different herds in 9 states had already been reported, according to the data from USDA received. 

Human infection is, in fact, what had been reported just once, namely, that of the dairy worker from Texas who had direct contact with infected cows. However, the case was mild. 

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