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Raw Milk Alert: Health Experts Warn of Bird Flu Risks to Humans and Pets

Raw Milk Alert: Health Experts Warn

United States: The threat associated with bird flu has been escalating with every passing hour, from milk to milk equipment to wastewater – every contamination source has been increasing the concerns and worries. It is to be noted that the total case count linked to the infection has reached up to four (4), and milk has been considered to be the most common mode of transmission.

Recently, health experts have come forward to announce that raw milk is a matter of great concern for humans. Along with this, they mentioned that raw milk is not safe for other mammals, including pets, and people must not feed them the same. 

The announcement has been made after the concerns linked to the impact of bird flu outbreak in dairy cows on pets, especially cats, was raised.

In only a small number of states, such as Indiana and Kentucky, vending unprocessed milk to consumers is against the law. However, with avian influenza affecting dairy cattle in nine states, including Michigan and Ohio, specialists are cautioning against feeding unprocessed milk to pets as well.

Felines that have ingested unprocessed milk have contracted infections and, in certain instances, succumbed at a location in Texas.

“There are individuals who purchase unprocessed milk meant for pets’ consumption. And that’s an area of concern,” remarked Denise Derrer-Spears, a representative for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. “The concern arises because on some of these farms, where dairy operations are located, feline fatalities have occurred,” he added. 

At the beginning of May, the Indiana State Chemist issued recommendations advising against providing unprocessed milk to pets, emphasizing the recent feline deaths associated with milk intake.

“Felines that have ingested HPAI (avian influenza)-infected milk have contracted infections and have perished in Ohio, New Mexico, and Texas,” the advisory stated, adding, “More than fifty percent of the felines perished, displaying no apparent signs of harm. Postmortem examinations revealed profound systemic viral infection, affecting organs such as the cerebrum and ocular organs.”

Apart from poultry, dairy cattle, and felines, avian influenza has been detected in a diverse array of wild creatures including vulpines, pinnipeds, and Ursidae, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Scientists have cautioned that each instance the virus leaps to a new animal host heightens the risk of transmission to humans. Dairy cattle have been a source of significant concern due to their close proximity to individuals such as agricultural laborers.

“So, if you’re a proprietor of felines, exercise caution, or even pet owners in general, if it’s impacting other species, it might pose a problem there too because the safeguard of pasteurization is absent,” Derrer-Spears cautioned.

Examinations conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration have revealed that while commercial milk has shown traces of the avian influenza virus, the pasteurization procedure eradicates the virus, rendering it safe for human consumption.

Currently, health authorities assert that the risk to the public at large is minimal.

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