After 91 Million Birds Infected With Bird Flu In 3 Years, New Findings On Cows Raise Concerns: 70 Workers Monitored For Symptoms

For consumers already dealing with sticky inflation, one food staple is unlikely to provide relief for a uniquely concerning reason.

At the end of April, egg prices increased by 16% since January due to a spike in bird flu among chickens, impacting facilities at Cal-Maine Foods CALM.

Over the past three years, nearly 91 million birds have tested positive for bird flu. Adding to this concern, less than two months ago, scientists confirmed bird flu could also be found in cattle. 

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Dr. Lars Larsen, a veterinary microbiologist at the University of Copenhagen, explained the significance of the findings: "We see an enormous amount of virus in the mammary glands and in the milk" compared to other mammals.

Even more concerning, scientists recently confirmed that cows have human flu receptors, which could act as a "mixing vessel" for different virus mutations.

A co-study by scientists at the University of Copenhagen and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis wrote that "these results provide a mechanistic rationale for the high levels of H5N1 virus reported in infected bovine milk and show cattle have the potential to act as a mixing vessel for novel [influenza virus] generation."

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While the CDC maintains that the "risk to the general public remains low" and that human-to-human transmission remains "rare," the spread in cattle has already affected humans, with 70 dairy farmworkers in Colorado currently undergoing monitoring for possible symptoms of bird flu. 

The CDC’s concern about a potential outbreak of bird flu remains at the top of the mind, but a core issue for the agency now is to get the public to listen to it.

While the CDC has strongly advised against consuming raw milk due to the increase of bird flu among cows, warning that "raw milk can be contaminated with harmful germs that can make you very sick," the sale of unpasteurized milk has not reduced. 

According to market research firm NielsenIQ, sales of raw milk have increased between 21% and 65% since March 25, when bird flu was first confirmed in cattle. 

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