Bird flu tests show more dairy products are safe, US FDA says by Reuters

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By Julie Steenhuysen and Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Preliminary results from tests of complementary dairy products show that pasteurization inactivates the bird flu virus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday.

The FDA has released further test results on foods including sour cream and cottage cheese after reporting last week that preliminary test results showed pasteurization kills the H5N1 virus in milk and baby food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed bird flu in 36 dairy farms in nine states since the first-ever detection in late March, although scientists have said the outbreak is likely more widespread based on findings of H5N1 particles in about 20% of cases . milk samples. One Texas dairy worker tested positive for the virus.

The USDA believes the virus spreads primarily among livestock through contact with raw milk, Rosemary Sifford, the agency’s chief veterinary officer, said on a call that also included officials from the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ) participated. Cows release the virus in high concentrations in their milk, the USDA said.

The FDA has tested a total of 297 samples of retail pasteurized dairy products to date, and the results released Wednesday represent tests on 201 of those samples.

“These are pretty good results,” Donald Prater, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said on the call. “There are probably a few more products we would look at to make sure we have a good national sample.”

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Scientists are alert to changes in H5N1 that could indicate the virus is adapting to spread easily among people. The virus has caused serious or fatal infections among people in close contact with wild birds or poultry. It has long been on the list of viruses with pandemic potential, and any expansion into a new mammal species is concerning.

See also  Bird flu can infect cows outside the US, WHO says by Reuters

CDC official Dr. Demetre Daskalakis said the agency has monitored about 100 people exposed to bird flu, and about 25 people who developed symptoms have been tested. No further positive cases have been found so far.

The agency tested a sample of the virus taken from the farm worker infected with H5N1 and found that all commercially available antiviral flu treatments are effective against it. The worker’s only symptom was conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye.

Currently approved antiviral drugs include Roche’s Xofluza and Tamiflu, as well as a generic version of Tamiflu, GSK’s Relenza, and BioCryst (NASDAQ:) Pharmaceuticals’ Rapivab.

The CDC said it is working to grow the virus from the infected farm worker for additional laboratory experiments to assess the severity of the disease and the transmissibility of the virus.

It said disease monitoring shows no unusual flu activity in people.

The USDA is testing retail samples of ground beef, but the stated results are not yet available. The ministry has said it is confident the meat supply is safe.

According to the USDA, wild birds that carry the virus appear to be the first source of infections in dairy cows. Moving livestock then spread the disease to other flocks and then to poultry flocks, the agency said.

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