Raw milk containing bird flu virus infects mice in study

Researchers fed droplets from infected cows to five mice
calendar icon 27 May 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Feeding raw milk contaminated with bird flu to mice infected them with the virus, adding to evidence that consumption of unpasteurised milk is not safe for humans, Reuters reported, citing a study published on Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Bird flu has caused serious or fatal infections globally among people in close contact with infected wild birds or poultry, and scientists have long viewed the virus as being capable of causing a global health crisis.

US officials this week said that a second human infection had been confirmed in a Michigan dairy worker after the bird flu virus was first detected in dairy cattle in late March. Both workers' symptoms were limited to conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

In the study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory fed droplets of raw milk from infected dairy cattle to five mice.

The researchers said the mice showed signs of illness, including lethargy, on the first day. They identified high levels of virus in the animals' nasal passages, trachea and lungs and moderate-to-low virus levels in other organs, consistent with bird flu infections found in other mammals.

Most US milk is pasteurised, but 30 US states permit the sale of raw milk, which accounts for less than 1% of nationwide sales. A nationwide survey of pasteurized milk - heated to kill pathogens - found bird flu virus particles in about 20% of samples tested.

The study also found that levels of the bird flu virus fell slowly in raw milk stored at refrigeration temperatures.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health, funded the study.

The US Food and Drug Administration has advised against drinking raw milk and US officials have asked dairy farms to pasteurise milk that is being discarded.

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.