US Dairy Cows Contract Bird Flu for First Time

  • The US Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that cattle from farms in Kan. and Texas had tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza — the first time the virus has been detected in cattle. CBS (LR: 2 CP: 5)
  • The virus was later detected in a herd in Michigan that had recently received cows from Texas. Officials have also said "presumptive positive" test results have been received from herds in New Mexico and Idaho. CBS (LR: 2 CP: 5)
  • Bird flu, which infects the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of birds, is highly fatal for avian populations. The virus can be transmitted from wild birds to commercial poultry populations, as well as to mammals, including humans. NPR Online News (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • The US govt said, "there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply or that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health." Only milk from healthy cows is permitted to enter the food supply chain and milk from sick cows is being diverted and destroyed. Guardian (LR: 2 CP: 5)
  • Officials believe the virus was likely introduced to the cows by wild birds at the affected farms, though they haven't ruled out cow-to-cow transmission. NPR Online News (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • Texas officials Monday said a person who had contact with infected cattle has tested positive for bird flu. Clinicians in the state have been recommended to "consider the possibility" of the virus in people via exposure to animals and unpasteurized milk from affected farms. The Texas Tribune

Narrative A:

  • This outbreak should not be a cause for alarm for humans. Scientists haven't found any evidence that this strain has changed in terms of making it easier to transmit to humans, indicating that the risk is low. Additionally, regulations for commercial dairy products ensure that pasteurized milk is safe for consumption.
    CBS (LR: 2 CP: 5)

Narrative B:

  • Recent cases of bird flu in mammals are extremely worrying because they may suggest a mutation that's making it easier to transmit to humans. Additionally, multiple types of influenza viruses could potentially intermix within infected animals and create new viruses that could be even more harmful to mammals. This situation, and food supply chains, must be monitored extremely closely.

Nerd narrative:

  • There's a 5% chance that there will be a novel pathogen that kills over 25 million people between 2022 and 2031 (inclusive), according to the Metaculus prediction community.
    METACULUS (LR: 3 CP: 3)
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