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Avian flu outbreaks on US dairy farms on the rise |

Avian flu outbreaks on US dairy farms on the rise |

The number of bird flu cases on dairy farms in the United States has risen to eleven.

After the first case on March 25, infections with highly pathogenic avian influenza were detected late last month in cows on dairy farms in three US states. This is the first case of bird flu in ruminants.

Meanwhile, the number of US dairy farms affected by H5N1 bird flu has increased to eleven in four different states; Michigan, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas. Poultry World, an English-language poultry news site, reports that the investigation into multiple infections in the state of Idaho is still ongoing.

On infected farms, about 10 percent of the animals become ill. Production decreases and animals show little signs of disease. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), milk from infected animals appears thicker than normal, like colostrum. However, there is no risk to public health. Milk from infected establishments is destroyed and milk entering the food chain is pasteurized so that potential virus particles are immediately destroyed.

Employee tests positive

A Texas dairy worker has been confirmed to have contracted bird flu from a dairy cow. He had only a few eye complaints, which have been seen before in people infected with the bird flu virus. When people in the Netherlands contracted the H7N7 virus in 2003, they had similar complaints. At that time, 89 people in the Netherlands were diagnosed with the H7N7 virus.

Hans Nauwynck, a professor at Ghent University and affiliated with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Virology, is not too concerned at the moment. “As long as it's an isolated incident, it's not a problem.” Over the years, hundreds of human infections with various bird flu viruses have been reported, a significant number of which are caused by the H5N1 virus, almost always with mild symptoms. After an employee at a dairy farm in Texas tested positive for bird flu, several professors note that there is no reason to panic.

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