The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported on Monday that avian influenza has been detected in milk samples from dairy cattle exhibiting symptoms in Kansas and Texas. Despite these findings, officials confirm that the U.S. milk supply remains secure and unaffected.

This recent detection of the avian influenza virus, commonly referred to as bird flu, underscores its expansive reach, previously identified in various poultry populations and some mammals globally. The USDA is collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate dairy cattle in Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico showing signs of decreased milk output and diminished appetite.

Clinical tests on unpasteurized milk from two farms in Kansas and one in Texas have returned positive results for the highly pathogenic strain of avian flu. Additionally, a swab from a dairy cow in Texas confirmed the presence of the virus, suggesting wild birds as a likely vector for the disease’s transmission to cattle. According to the USDA, these findings pose a low risk to human health based on current testing.

In response to these findings, measures have been instituted to ensure that milk from affected cattle is either diverted or disposed of, preventing it from entering the food supply chain. The USDA emphasizes that pasteurization, a mandatory process for milk distributed across state lines, effectively neutralizes harmful bacteria and viruses, including influenza.

The USDA reassures consumers and stakeholders, “There is no concern regarding the safety of the commercial milk supply, nor does this situation pose a health risk to consumers.” The agency also anticipates no significant impact on dairy product prices following this development.

U.S. dairy industry representatives have appealed to international importers not to impose bans or restrictions on U.S. dairy goods due to these avian flu detections. This appeal comes amid concerns of potential trade limitations similar to those faced by the U.S. poultry industry during its significant outbreak in 2022.

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