FDA Finds Avian Flu Virus in One of Five Samples of Retail Milk

April 26, 2024
The samples found in milk so far have not been viable, so the U.S.’s milk supply remains safe.

The FDA has shared yet more updates regarding the avian flu outbreak in the U.S., including new findings that show that remnants of H5N1 avian flu viruses were found in one of five samples of retail milk. CIDRAP reported on the updates.

Donald Prater, DVM, acting director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), reiterated that the FDA’s assessment remains “that the nation’s milk supply remains safe.” No viable virus has been found in milk samples to this point. However, he also emphasizes more data is needed to form a complete picture.

In addition, Rosemary Sifford, DVM, deputy administrator for veterinary services and chief veterinarian with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspective Services (APHIS), shared some updates on transmission patterns. Only 1 of the 260 genetic sequences studied “had a mutation linked to mammalian adaptation.” The highest concentrations of shedding virus have been found in “milk and mammary tissue” from cows on-farm.

CDC officials have also shared details on positive H5N1 tests in cats across three states: Texas, New Mexico, and Ohio. There have also been positive detections in five wild birds on the farms.

Research results have been “promising” so far for antiviral susceptibility. Vivien Duggan, PhD, who heads the CDC’s influenza division, said “officials are watching certain cues, such as change in mammalian transmission, better adaptation to human-to-human spread, and clusters of cases” before triggering ramped up vaccine production. A candidate vaccine could be produced at high rates if necessary, according to David Boucher, PhD, director of infectious disease preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Strategic Preparedness.

HPN reported yesterday on further updates from the FDA regarding avian flu, emphasizing the pasteurization process as an effective protection against viable virus samples in milk.