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More people want to know why bird flu spreads to people and others



More people want to know why bird flu spreads to people and others

In the month after H5N1, bird flu spread to more people, especially herds of dairy cows. More and more experts in the United States are paying more attention to this problem.

Last month the unexpected news was that cows from a Texas dairy herd had tested positive for H5N1, but apparently pasteurization of milk kills this specific virus.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) is expressing “major concern” about the rise in human cases of bird flu, health officials in Michigan are warning against raw milk, and a prominent journalist is demanding more information from the USDA.

These are some of the reactions that have occurred since about April 1, when a second human bird flu illness was reported in the United States.

The WHO is “very concerned” that the bird flu virus could evolve and develop an ability to infect humans.

Michigan ranked raw or unpasteurized milk among the foods most susceptible to the bird flu virus.

Journalist Helen Branswell, writing for STAT, raises many food safety implications from bird flu, including milk, raw milk and the possible spread from chickens to cattle and even humans and/or pigs.

She reports an inevitable failure in both transparency and responsive research.

USDA claims that since the avian flu outbreak began in early 2022, the department has been “releasing timely and transparent information.”

Outside of USDA, researchers require the government to continuously collect samples to check for dangerous changes in the virus, but only a few genetic sequences from this outbreak have been uploaded to GISAID, the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data.

Previously known as the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data, a global scientific initiative founded in 2008 to provide access to GISAID, an international database widely used by scientists.

Genetic sequences are shared early in the outbreak, preventing outside scientists from checking whether the virus has changed as it moved from cow to cow or herd to herd.

USDA said it has offered outside scientists copies of a sample virus for research purposes. The department offers that USDA is analyzing other virus outbreaks, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s sequences will be shared in the coming days.

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