Bird flu impacts dairy products in nine states


Symptoms to be aware of and CDC recommendations to follow

Grocery shoppers have gotten used to bird flu having an impact on egg, chicken, and turkey prices, but now Old MacDonald has another problem: bird flu's effect on dairy products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in 20% of the pasteurized milk samples it tested.

Despite these findings, the FDA has assured the public that commercial milk is safe to consume – with an ounce of caution. This warranty is based on the success of the pasteurization process, which is likely to inactivate the virus, although it may not remove all viral particles.

Another concern is the presence of higher levels of these bird flu particles in places where herds of cattle have been afflicted.

A third caveat that consumers should be aware of is where exactly the virus has been found. In places where dairy products are produced and distributed locally or regionally, the dairy herds the FDA noted have been identified as being in nine states: Idaho, Kansas, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas.

To follow the spread of the flu, the USDA updates this map daily.

CDC’s recommendations for the public

The issue seems to be serious enough that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trying to get in front of the situation, too.

The agency is recommending that until the situation is under control, consumers “should not prepare or eat uncooked or undercooked food or related uncooked food products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, or raw cheeses, from animals with suspected or confirmed HPAI A(H5N1) virus infection (avian influenza or bird flu).”

There are certain symptoms related to bird flu and should be noted and reported if anyone becomes ill. Those are very similar to common flu symptoms and include: 

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Muscle aches

  • Runny nose

  • In some cases, eye infections (conjunctivitis)

If you're looking for a deeper dive into the situation, the FDA offers these FAQs.

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