Bird flu virus fragments found in pasteurized milk

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Concerns rise as bird flu fragments detected in US milk supply: FDA reassures consumers.

NEW YORK, April 24: On Tuesday, federal regulators disclosed that samples of pasteurized milk from across the United States have tested positive for inactive remnants of the bird flu virus affecting dairy cows. Although the presence of viral fragments in milk poses no threat to consumers, concerns persist regarding the extent of the outbreak’s reach and impact.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assured the public that the viral fragments detected in the milk supply do not compromise its safety. However, questions loom regarding the scale of the outbreak, with more than 30 dairy herds in eight states affected by the H5N1 bird flu virus in the past month.

Criticism has been directed at the Agriculture Department for its perceived sluggishness in sharing crucial data and conducting thorough testing of cattle for the infection. Despite the discovery of viral fragments in milk samples, experts emphasize that the genetic material does not pose a significant risk to consumers, given that it cannot replicate independently.

While the exact number of milk samples testing positive for viral fragments remains undisclosed, experts assert that such findings raise important questions about the outbreak’s magnitude. The discovery of the virus in dairy cows without apparent symptoms further underscores the potential breadth of the problem.

FDA officials are actively studying milk samples from various sources, including infected cows, milk processing facilities, and retail shelves. However, results from experiments to determine the presence of active virus in milk are still pending.

Despite assurances of the safety of pasteurized milk, concerns persist about potential risks associated with consuming unpasteurized dairy products. While federal agencies monitor flu testing data and related healthcare visits, the discovery of viral fragments has prompted internal deliberations on how to effectively communicate findings without causing undue alarm.

In the coming days, federal officials are expected to address these concerns in a news briefing. However, the need for clear communication and consumer education remains paramount, according to advocacy groups.

While the presence of viral fragments in milk warrants attention, experts emphasize the effectiveness of pasteurization in mitigating risks associated with pathogens. The diluted nature of pooled milk and the breakdown of ingested milk by the body’s immune system further diminish concerns about remnants of viral genetic material.

Overall, while the situation raises questions about the duration of viral shedding in cows, experts stress that the risk to human health remains minimal as long as the virus remains inactive.

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