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Discussion thread: H5N1 avian flu in US Dairy Cows - March 24+ - 10 human cases

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  • Treyfish
    All kinds of disturbing news…

    HPAI dairy herd infection case report

    Phil Durst, Michigan State University Extension - May 17, 2024

    What happens in a dairy herd with HPAI? What should I expect if my herd became infected? This case report describes what one farmer has faced in the 15 days since herd infection began. May 1, 2024 marked day one of the onset of an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on one dairy farm in Michigan. The farmer, recognizing the potential benefit to other farmers, willingly shared this information and agreed to have official testing of his herd. This report is what was known and reported on day 15 of the HPAI infection in a herd of approximately 500 lactating cows. Prior to infection, the average cow production on this farm ranged from 95 to 100 lbs. per day.

    Initial symptoms were detected with the SmaXtec monitoring boluses that they currently have in about 90% of lactating cows. The onset was manifested by a spike in body temperature of 4 to 5 degrees above normal, followed by a decrease in rumination 6 hours later. Rumination decreases were typically 8% or more in affected cows.

    The temperature elevation lasted about two days, resulting in severe dehydration. The farm took an aggressive approach to supportive therapy, administering aspirin boluses twice a day to reduce temperature and inflammation and providing IV hypertonic fluids and Vitamin B in some cases. They tried IV Banamine on a limited number of cows but did not see any positive impact. Their goal is to make the cows as comfortable as possible.

    It began in a barn with two pens of cattle that had three water fountains, the center one being shared. They wanted to try to confine the disease to a single group or at least a single barn. They changed their wash cycle in milking so that it washed after this group of cows. Regardless of their efforts, HPAI spread to all groups of lactating cattle on the farm.

    For the first nine days, milk production per cow only decreased by about 5 lbs. and were optimistic they had beaten back the disease. However, by day 12 each cow was producing 21 lbs. less than average, accompanied by a doubling of somatic cell count to 180,000 c/ml. Cows were dehydrated with sunken eyes. Day 15 was the first day that the monitoring report showed fewer cows affected than the day before. Based on the number of cows with elevated temperatures and subtracting out the normal rate, they believe 40% of the lactating herd was infected.

    The number of cows the farm employees needed to handle in some way had increased sixfold, making the work very labor intensive. They stopped breeding heifer and dry cows because of the demands working with sick cattle.

    While pregnancy checks have not at this point shown a reduction in conception, a few late-lactating cows aborted their calves, likely due to high body temperatures. The disease primarily affected high-producing, multi-lactation cows and the low group. Transition cows seem to be performing normally at this point. Waste milk is pasteurized before feeding it to calves, and to date, the calves seem to be doing fine.

    Employees have stayed healthy so far. The farmer encouraged them to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face and eyes. All employees were offered safety eyewear or face shields.

    Clearly, by day 15, the full impact of the disease has not yet been felt. However, the farmer did some cost estimations. He has spent $5,000 – $7,500 in extra medical supplies. Even though the costs of these common medications are low, the volume needed has been quite high. There has been the loss of milk, loss of quality premium, increased labor and loss of a few pregnancies resulting in culling animals. He estimates the cost for this herd of approximately 500 cows at $30,000 – $40,000.

    The owner of the farm in this case report understands that this does not include the potential longer-term costs. Another farmer said that some herds are seeing symptoms for four to six weeks. Additional negative impacts include increased culls of animals that do not recover significantly and increased weight gain of late lactation cows that recover feed intake but not milk output.

    “It has been a lot of work, stressful on the cows and frankly overwhelming,” the farmer said.

    As required by law, this farmer reported the disease to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). He believes it is important for the industry to understand the disease. He knows that his is not the only farm to get HPAI and hopes that the more we can learn from his experience, the better we can prevent more herd infections, reduce the impact and potentially be better prepared against other diseases.

    Michigan State University Extension is a leader in working with this and other farms regarding HPAI for the benefit of the dairy industry and provides resources at our animal agriculture and avian influenza websites.

    This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

    What happens in a dairy herd with HPAI? What should I expect if my herd became infected? This case report describes what one farmer has faced since herd infection began.

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  • Pathfinder
    Traces of bird flu have made it into store-bought milk in New England, but at very low levels.

    Story by Adam Piore • 22h • 6 min read
    The inactivated remnants of H5N1 virus, also known as bird flu, were identified in one of 40 samples of milk purchased from 20 local grocery stores and analyzed by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard on behalf of The Boston Globe.
    To find out if H5N1 was present in local supermarkets, Globe staffers fanned out across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire earlier this week, heading for the dairy sections of Star Market, Stop & Shop, Cumberland Farms, Whole Foods, Traders Joe’s, Shaws, Target, and a wide array of other stores.

    They delivered the milk in coolers to Sabeti’s lab in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. After using specialized machines to extract any genetic material present and reproduce it 1 billion times, members of her lab then added fluorescent chemical particles that rendered any fragments of the H5N1 virus visible to a specialized camera, explained Elyse Stachler, a research scientist who led the genetic testing. Each sample underwent testing twice before technicians rendered their verdict. Some underwent a third test that was even more stringent.

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  • Treyfish
    Wouldn’t want anything factual to get out

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  • sharon sanders
    Originally posted by sharon sanders View Post
    "FluTrackers" <>
    To: <>
    Subject: Request from to be reinstated to listserve (distribution list) for media events
    Date: May 10, 2024 4:07 PM​

    Dear HHS -

    At one time we were on the media listserve (distribution list) for media advisories, press conferences, etc.

    Please reinstate us.

    Thank you!


    Sharon Sanders

    FluTrackers was not invited to another joint USDA HHS media event
    despite making a request to be added to the media listserve. #H5N1

    12:43 PM · May 16, 2024

    Leave a comment:

  • sharon sanders

    Please see:

    Nature Dispatch: Risk Assessment On HPAI H5N1 From Mink

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  • jasonfoster
    If true, in my opinion, this is awful and dangerous to the rest of the world

    California’s ‘wellness’ devotees think raw milk infected with bird flu will ‘boost immunity’

    As US dairy farms fight outbreaks of HN51 in cows, some believe unpasteurised, infected milk will act as a natural vaccine against the virus

    Unpasteurised milk presents a risk at the best of times – but not in parts of woo-woo California, it seems.

    Despite the US health authorities warning that raw milk may contain live H5N1 virus – linked to bird flu outbreaks across 46 dairy farms – some people are reported to be seeking more of it.

    Just as some alternative health devotees swear by the insertion of jade eggs where the sun don’t shine, others in the same cohort now believe that drinking milk contaminated with live H5N1 may actually be good for you.

    -- more here -

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  • sharon sanders
    How did the opossums get H5N1? They do not drink cow's milk afaik. Fomite contact walking through barn excrement? Wild bird contact outside barn? Soil? Pond?

    A commercial dairy premises. Clinical signs in lactating cattle included a drop in milk production. HPAI H5N1 clade was also detected in two wild Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and a feral barn cat (Felis catus) on the affected dairy premises...."

    Dairy cows. Please see: Dairy cows test positive for H5N1 avian flu in Texas, Kansas, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, South Dakota - March 24+ One Texas human case April 1 (

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  • Pathfinder
    Canada -
    Interim milk sampling and testing results (as of May 14, 2024)

    CFIA laboratories tested 142 retail milk samples from across Canada. To date, all samples have tested negative for HPAI fragments, with no evidence of disease in dairy cattle detected in milk.

    Commercial milk sampling and testing for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viral fragments in Canada With recent news of dairy cattle in the United States (U.S.) testing positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and reports of fragments of HPAI detected in pasteurized milk sold in the U.S., we understand

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  • Treyfish
    USDA, FDA turf battles hamper responses to outbreaks like H5N1 bird flu
    May 14, 2024 HYACINTH EMPINADO/STAT WASHINGTON — On a bright June day in 2018, one of the nation’s top regulators waved groceries in the air, quizzing the secretary of agriculture on which agency is charged with monitoring different types of food.

    Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration at the time, grinned widely as he held liquid egg whites and a carton of eggs. The former is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food safety purview. The eggs, under the FDA’s. The mood was jovial, winkingly acknowledging the complexity, and at times absurdity, in the way the government regulates food.

    But in times of crisis, the splintered U.S. food regulation system is far from amusing. With an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu spreading among dairy cattle, experts say that the longtime fractured nature of the U.S. food regulation system could hamper the federal response.

    STAT interviewed more than 20 former agency officials and independent experts, many of whom described the relationship between the USDA and the FDA as being punctuated by tense turf battles. Some cited the recent history as a basis for their concern now over H5N1. In the past, the fragmented responsibilities between the FDA and sub-agencies within the USDA led to inefficient investigations and stunted surveillance testing in cases involving E. coli, salmonella, and tuberculosis. FURTHER READING H5N1 bird flu: Go deeper
    Because H5N1 is currently an animal disease, it’s clearly the USDA’s responsibility to test cattle and get a handle on the outbreak. But already, public health experts are concerned that the scope of that agency’s testing​…
    lots more..

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  • Treyfish

    Expert Briefing Tomorrow: Bird Flu - How It’s Spreading, Risks to Humans, and How We Can Protect Ourselves

    14-May-2024 8:00 AM EDT, by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


    Newswise — A reminder that the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will host an expert briefing for the media tomorrow, May 15, about the spread of avian influenza, the risks it poses to humans, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H5N1 bird flu has become widespread in migratory birds, with smaller outbreaks in poultry, cows, and a recent case in a U.S. dairy worker. On April 26, the Food and Drug Administration announced that initial results from its commercial milk sampling study showed that one in five samples of milk sold in the U.S. contained traces of bird flu. The FDA says the commercial milk supply is safe because of pasteurization but that it is monitoring the situation.

    The live briefing will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 15, via Zoom, and will feature two experts from the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    Meghan Davis, PhD, and Andrew Pekosz, PhD, will discuss:
    • What the threat of bird flu means for humans, including dairy farm and milk processing workers.
    • How bird flu is affecting eggs, chickens, livestock, and food supplies.
    • Bird flu’s recent infections in sea lions, sea elephants, and other marine mammals, as well as in cats on dairy farms.
    • How bird flu is spreading through dairy cattle and adapting to more effectively infect mammals.
    • How the virus can be treated in humans and what the public can do to stay safe.

    • Meghan Davis, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A former dairy veterinarian, she uses One Health approaches to address diseases at the human-animal interface.
    • Andrew Pekosz, PhD, is a professor and vice chair of the W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He investigates the replication and disease potential of respiratory viruses, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and other emerging viruses.

    Registration required: Please register here by 11:30 a.m. today, May 14, to receive the Zoom link and password for Wednesday’s briefing. Questions for the experts may be submitted via the registration form in advance or via chat during the briefing.

    Questions about registering: Contact Abubakr Uqdah at


    A reminder that the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will host an expert briefing for the media tomorrow, May 15, about the spread of avian

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  • Pathfinder
    Influenza A Virus Wastewater Data

    Updated May 14, 2024

    Main Findings from Wastewater Surveillance
    • During the two most recent weeks (April 21-May 4), a total of 230 of 674 sites in 34 states reported data meeting criteria for analysis for influenza virus A in both weeks or either week, and 3 (1%) sites from three states were at the high level (>80th percentile compared to levels recorded at that site between October 1, 2023 and March 2, 2024).

    Wastewater and the Current Outbreak of Influenza A (H5N1) in birds, cattle, and other animals:
    • Current wastewater monitoring methods detect influenza A viruses but do not determine the subtype. This means that avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses can be detected but would not be distinguished from other influenza A virus subtypes.
    • Wastewater testing cannot determine the source of the influenza A virus. It could come from a human or from an animal (like a bird) or an animal product (like milk from an infected cow).
    • Public health officials at CDC and state and local health departments are monitoring these data. For areas where influenza A virus levels in wastewater are high, CDC works with relevant partners to better understand the factors that could be contributing to these levels.
    • Efforts to monitor influenza A virus activity using wastewater data are likely to evolve as the methodologies and interpretation are evaluated and refined.
    • For the latest information on H5N1, and what you can do to protect yourself, visit H5N1 Bird Flu: Current Situation. For the latest information on influenza activity in people, visit the Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report.

    Number of Wastewater Sites with Data Meeting Criteria for Analysis Reporting Current High Influenza A Levels in Recent Two Weeks: 3 (1% of Total Sites)

    Number of Sites with Data Meeting Criteria for Analysis Reporting Influenza A Wastewater Data in Past Two Weeks: 230

    Influenza A in Wastewater – Site Level

    This interactive map shows current site-level data for influenza A virus in wastewater. Each dot on the map represents a wastewater sampling site. Sites are categorized based on the current level of influenza A compared to the past levels at the same site during the 2023-2024 influenza season. When influenza A virus levels are at the 80th percentile or higher, CDC will work with relevant partners to better understand the factors that could be contributing to these levels.

    Wastewater data for influenza A is available for the most recent two weeks:
    • April 21, 2024 – April 27, 2024
    • April 28, 2024 – May 4, 2024
    Click image for larger version  Name:	image.png Views:	2 Size:	181.7 KB ID:	990543
    Skip Over Map Container
    Week2024-05-042024-04-27 Select a color from the legend to add or remove it from the map.
    All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received. Wastewater data does not distinguish between human and animal waste or by-products. Download Data (CSV)


    Attached Files

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  • Pathfinder
    U.S. dairy flu strain shows signs of being a different beast
    By Jeff Melchior, Stew Slater
    Reading Time: 4 minutes
    Published: 16 hours ago
    Dairy Cattle, News

    Dr. Jean-Pierre Vaillaincourt, an epidemiologist with University of Montreal’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, says influenza A virus doesn’t spread readily in feces, so chances are low that geese or ducks could infect cows during a fly-over. It also doesn’t spread easily through nasal droplets so the likelihood is low that cows would spread the virus to other cows.

    ... Vaillaincourt thinks an infected bird with access to cattle housing or feeding areas likely contaminated either feed or water in the U.S. dairy incidents.
    “Water will be a big (subject of investigation),” Vaillaincourt said. “In non-treated water, this virus could survive for weeks.”
    Glacier FarmMedia – Veterinarians and food safety officials have been scrambling since late March to understand the origin and spread of highly pathogenic

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  • sharon sanders
    There are some media stories saying that people are drinking raw milk on purpose to get some low level of H5N1 exposure in the hope that this will lead to antibody protection against a future human pandemic strain of the virus.

    This is not guaranteed to work. Cross immunity is a tricky thing. Meanwhile, there are real risks to drinking unpasturized milk.

    FluTrackers has never recommended "flu parties" or any type of purposeful exposure to any illness.

    If you have any medical questions, contact your medical practitioner. Do not take medical advice from the internet.

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  • Pathfinder
    Bird flu strain found in US cows flown to UK lab for testing

    Virus sent to high-security facility so that experts can examine the potential risks to people and livestock

    Phoebe Weston
    Sat 11 May 2024 07.00 EDT
    “It’s due to be shipped any day now,” said Dr Ashley Banyard, a virologist at the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) lab in Weybridge, Surrey, last week. “I saw the packaging instructions in my email this morning.” It is essential this virus does not escape into the wider environment: globally, H5N1 has killed millions of wild birds and thousands of mammals.

    Although avian flu is widespread in the UK, the specific genome being imported for testing is the only one known to infect cattle, and the US is the only place where it has been recorded. “We really want to know if there’s something special about this particular genotype that’s emerged,” said Banyard.

    It is being shipped in a small amount of liquid within three tubes, with dry ice between layers – a bit like a Russian doll. A special courier costs hundreds of pounds to safely transport it door to door.

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  • Treyfish
    Farmers will now get paid to test their dairy cows for bird flu

    The federal government is putting up nearly $200 million to stop the spread of the virus and help experts get a better handle on just how widespread it is.
    May 10, 2024, 6:33 PM EDT
    By Erika Edwards

    Federal authorities on Friday pledged nearly $200 million in an attempt to control the spread of bird flu on dairy farms. Some of that money would go directly to farms to help them reduce the spread of the virus, cover veterinary costs and compensate farmers who’ve lost milk because of sick cows.

    The money is also intended to encourage testing of both dairy cows and the people who work closely with them — a key step, experts said, in understanding the true scope of bird flu, also known as H5N1, across the U.S.

    “Incentives work very well to get a better understanding of epidemiology,” said Katelyn Jetelina, who tracks illnesses for a website called “Your Local Epidemiologist.”

    Right now, there is no requirement for dairy cows to be tested unless they’re being moved across state lines, according to a recent federal order. Otherwise, the decision is left to farmers.

    So far, only about 80 cows among the 26,000 dairy herds in the U.S. have been tested under the federal order,......

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