US Dairy Cows Contract Bird Flu for First Time

US Dairy Cows Contract Bird Flu for First Time
Image copyright: Scott Olson/Staff/Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • The US Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that cattle from farms in Kan. and Texas had tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza — the first time the virus has been detected in cattle.

  • The virus was later detected in a herd in Michigan that had recently received cows from Texas. Officials have also said "presumptive positive" test results have been received from herds in New Mexico and Idaho.

The Spin

Narrative A

This outbreak should not be a cause for alarm for humans. Scientists haven't found any evidence that this strain has changed in terms of making it easier to transmit to humans, indicating that the risk is low. Additionally, regulations for commercial dairy products ensure that pasteurized milk is safe for consumption.

Narrative B

Recent cases of bird flu in mammals are extremely worrying because they may suggest a mutation that's making it easier to transmit to humans. Additionally, multiple types of influenza viruses could potentially intermix within infected animals and create new viruses that could be even more harmful to mammals. This situation, and food supply chains, must be monitored extremely closely.

Metaculus Prediction

Sign up to our daily newsletter