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FDA shares research plans as it continues to monitor bird flu outbreak

Over 100 dairy cattle herds in around a dozen states have reported cases of the highly infectious disease since March. U.S. health agencies maintain that the risk to the public is low.
Bird Flu Dairy Cows
Posted at 2:15 PM, Jun 25, 2024

On Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shared its agenda for research into avian influenza in dairy cows as it works to make sure the milk supply remains safe to drink.

The FDA is conducting multiple studies of pasteurization methods, including those used in commercial dairy operations, which have been shown to make the H5N1 virus inactive in milk products.

"These ongoing studies will provide the information to validate evidence of the effectiveness of pasteurization in ensuring that no viable HPAI H5N1 virus is present in the commercial milk supply," the FDA wrote.

Other research involves a continued survey of other dairy products on store shelves, including aged raw milk cheese, butter and ice cream. The FDA is checking a total of 155 products, some taken from states where it has not yet checked these sorts of goods for H5N1 contamination.

As of the FDA's latest results update, issued on May 10, "no viable virus was detected in 297 retail samples of milk and milk products."

Related stories: Bird flu detected in dairy cows in 12 states

The CDC says over 100 dairy cattle herds in around a dozen states have reported cases of the highly infectious disease since March.

Bird flu spreads from animal to animal, but has jumped to four humans in the U.S. since 2022, all of whom interacted with infected cows or poultry.

In its last update earlier in June, the CDC maintained that the risk to the U.S. public from bird flu remained low.

It recommends avoiding exposure to sick or dead birds or other animals, and avoiding drinking raw milk.