Bird flu remnants found in milk, FDA says


(NEXSTAR) – Inactive fragments of the bird flu virus that has sickened dairy herds in eight states have been detected in pasteurized milk, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a press release that the viral remnants don’t pose a health risk to consumers.

“To date, we have seen nothing that would change our assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe,” the FDA wrote, citing the pasteurization process and the “diversion or destruction of milk from sick cows.”

Scientists say there’s no evidence to suggest that people can contract the virus by consuming food that’s been pasteurized, or heat-treated — or properly cooked.

“It’s not a food safety concern,” said Lee-Ann Jaykus, an emeritus food microbiologist and virologist at North Carolina State University.

As of Tuesday evening, the virus, known as Type A H5N1, has been found in dairy cows in Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and South Dakota.

While the virus has caused mass deaths in wild bird and other animal populations, including thousands of sea lions in South America, the most common symptoms in dairy cows have included decreased lactation and low appetite, according to the FDA.

Two people in U.S. have been infected with bird flu to date. A Texas dairy worker who was in close contact with an infected cow recently developed a mild eye infection and has recovered. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program caught it while killing infected birds at a Colorado poultry farm. His only symptom was fatigue, and he also recovered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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