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Wednesday April 17, 2024

US dairy cows catch bird flu for first time raising fears of big drop in milk production

US cows on dairy farms in Texas, Kansas have tested positive for bird flu — what does it mean for US milk supplies?

By Web Desk
March 27, 2024
Cows on US dairy farms are suffering bird flu. — Unsplash/File
Cows on US dairy farms are suffering bird flu. — Unsplash/File

Cows on US dairy farms have tested positive for bird flu as the deadly virus was found in their unpasteurised milk samples and throat and nasal swabs.

In the first known cases in cows in the US, dairy cows on farms in Texas and Kansas have tested positive for bird flu.

In New Mexico, cows are also thought to have been infected, but they have not yet been tested.

Will it impact milk production?

The cows became sick with a cold-like illness three weeks ago, according to The Associated Press. The animals were found producing less milk than usual. Additionally, their appetites decreased and they appeared lethargic.

The cows were infected with the H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza with unpasteurised milk samples and throat and nose swabs, according to an announcement by the Texas Animal Health Commission on Tuesday. In wild and domesticated birds, this strain is known to cause outbreaks.

Officials have had to cull entire flocks to control the spread of the virus, in outbreaks of bird flu in poultry.

To recover without treatment within seven to 10 days, the cows that tested positive for bird flu appeared, by contrast, experts told the AP.

It appears the cattle caught the virus from infected wild birds, the USDA said. But it is still unclear that how the virus transmitted between the species.