HEALTH

Expert at Utah State University explains bird flu risks and transmission between cows and humans

May 2, 2024, 6:03 PM | Updated: May 3, 2024, 9:14 am

LOGAN — Utah State University professors are keeping an eye on the status of avian influenza, also known as the bird flu, across the country. There are no confirmed cases in Utah, but they’re still being extra careful.

There are 34 dairy herds that have been infected with the bird flu in nine different states. There are 30,000 herds in the United States.

Dr. Bruce Richards, who specializes in dairy studies at Utah State University, said most cows recover from the illness.

“It is not fatal in dairy cattle like in poultry. So that’s also good news for the dairy industry, is that it’s not fatal for us,” Richards said. “Herds that are infected do not have to depopulate their entire herd.”

He said the initial infection of the current outbreak came from wild birds that brought the flu to a farm.

“It’s an airborne disease,” Richards said. “Keep (birds) out of the feed to keep (the virus) out of the dairy barn.”

Richards said it is also found in milk.

“The good news for us as humans is that our receptors for (the bird flu) are lower in our lungs, and so infection in humans is rare. I mean, people work with dairy cows every day and they have to be milked every day. People handle them every day. And so far we’ve only had one positive case (in Texas),” Richards said.

USU’s dairy farm is carefully monitoring its cattle.

“Next month, we’re actually going to have a dairy producer field day where we’re going to train dairy farmers on good biosecurity practices, good ways to keep themselves safe, to keep their animals safe, and then also to control wild bird populations on the dairy farm,” Richards said.

Richards recommends farmers or those who regularly interact with cows wear rubber gloves and even masks.

“Proper personal gear in the dairy parlor is important,” Richards said. “If you’re going between herds, wearing plastic booties or rubber boots that can be washed can help decrease the spread.”

He said the milk from sick cows needs to be thrown out, as raw milk comes with risks.

“Pasteurized milk is still safe to drink because pasteurization will inactivate the virus,” Richards said.

The USDA recently made it mandatory for lactating dairy cattle to test negative for bird flu before crossing a state’s border.

“As far as cow-to-cow transmission, it’s important that we try and reduce movement of lactating dairy cows between dairy farms,” Richards said.

A manager at the dairy farm said they’re also being cautious with their robotic milk machines to prevent transmission. They said consumers should feel comfortable buying milk.

KSL 5 TV Live

Health

A special humanitarian medical mission is underway in the Kingdom of Morocco involving 82 soldiers ...

Shara Park

Utah National Guard soldiers on humanitarian medical mission to Morocco

A special humanitarian medical mission is underway in the Kingdom of Morocco involving 82 soldiers from the Utah National Guard.

4 hours ago

The first FDA-approved pill to treat postpartum depression was approved a few months ago, and it's ...

Jessica Guay, CNN

New hope for moms with postpartum depression

The first FDA-approved pill to treat postpartum depression was approved a few months ago, and it's already helping moms in the Pittsburgh area.

2 days ago

Diego Luna discusses his mental health struggles during his second season as a midfielder for Real ...

Emma Benson

‘It’s very difficult’: RSL’s Diego Luna opens up about mental health struggles

Luna, a California native and Olympic hopeful, is in his second season as a midfielder for Real Salt Lake. He admits the season was off to a rocky start. Pressures on and off the field, including becoming a father, were affecting his mental state.

2 days ago

TEMPE, ARIZONA - APRIL 17: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers attempts a shot on goaltender ...

Stephen Whyno, AP Sports Writer

Connor Ingram wins the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey

Connor Ingram, the goaltender for the Arizona Coyotes, has won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy after sharing his story with mental health struggles.

2 days ago

Anton Nootenboom, "The Barefoot Dutchman", walks across the country to bring awareness to men's men...

Ken Fall

‘The Barefoot Dutchman’ and his remarkable trek for men’s mental health

Anton Nootenboom, "The Barefoot Dutchman", makes his way across the U.S. to spread awareness for men's mental health.

3 days ago

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04:  Sesame Street characters Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Cookie M...

Emma Benson

‘Elmo loves you!’ Our favorite red Muppet stars in mental health campaign

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we all deal with stress and different emotions. In January, Elmo asked a simple question online that sparked a huge conversation.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Expert at Utah State University explains bird flu risks and transmission between cows and humans