Texas avian flu spreads from cows to people and chickens, with 2 million hens destroyed

An avian flu an infection spreading throughout cattle herds in Texas has jumped to people and chickens. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller instructed Fortune that officers are nonetheless hopeful the outbreak will keep contained—however suggested shoppers to cease consuming unpasteurized milk till well being authorities are sure it’s secure to take action.

“We’re seeing that a few of the milk is scorching—we first thought that it didn’t switch from animal to animal, however now we’re rethinking that,” Miller stated. “It’s in all probability a good suggestion to not eat unpasteurized dairy merchandise.”

Agricultural companies in Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico began getting stories final month of an unidentified virus affecting dairy cows within the area. After weeks of testing, the sickness was discovered to be HPAI, a illness unfold by migratory birds who had contaminated cows’ water provide. Final week, authorities stated they had been confident that the outbreak would stay contained.

Per week later, although, the scenario is extra extreme. Cows in Idaho and Michigan have also tested positive for the virus. A dairy worker had contracted an HPAI infection and displayed delicate signs together with pink eye, the Texas Division of Well being and Human Providers reported Monday. Yesterday, the Texas Division of Agriculture disclosed that the outbreak had spread to Cal-Maine Foods, the nation’s largest egg producer. 

Cal-Maine is killing practically 2 million hens, round 4% of its inhabitants, and destroying tens of millions extra eggs to be able to comprise the virus. Miller stated that the virus nonetheless shouldn’t have a big financial influence when it comes to commodity costs.

“[Cal-Maine] is our largest egg producer in the US, nevertheless it’s lower than 4% of the farm. So I don’t assume we’re going to see egg or poultry worth will increase,” Miller stated. “Identical with dairy—it’s a really, very small quantity of [the] total image. Customers are completely secure.”

Authorities are nonetheless not sure if HPAI could be transmitted by way of milk from contaminated dairy cows—therefore the warnings towards unpasteurized milk. All milk bought throughout state traces should be pasteurized by legislation, however unpasteurized milk is legal in dozens of states and uncooked milk and cheese are frequent at many farmers’ markets. Miller stated that buyers shouldn’t fear about eggs, as a result of all probably scorching (or contaminated) eggs have been destroyed.

Miller stated that the Texas Agriculture Division and different authorities are working to get solutions about how the virus spreads and comprise it as quickly as potential, offering much-needed aid for the Texas Panhandle area not too long ago devastated by the largest wildfire in the state’s history.

“We’re extremely recommending that [workers] use biosecurity measures, particularly employees round cattle,” Miller stated. “[We’re recommending] respiratory coverings and that employees cowl their eyes—issues like that.”

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