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More cows infected by avian influenza virus in US

June 21, 2024 - Alex Jurvillier

The number of animals infected with the avian influenza virus is increasing in the United States. The H5N1 type, which is also dangerous for humans, is causing millions of infected chickens and dozens of infected dairy farms there.

The number of dairy farms where cows are infected in the US stands at 101, spread across twelve states. The number of infected chickens is much higher, at nearly 97 million chickens spread across 48 states. It was somewhat expected that the number of infected cows would further increase. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has encouraged dairy farmers to test their cows. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports on the progress of the infections in America almost on a daily basis. Wild birds are also infected. CDC's most recent data mentions nearly 9,500 wild birds where the virus has been detected.

According to agricultural entrepreneurs and veterinarians, the virus causes digestive problems, fever, reduced appetite, and ultimately reduced milk production. The virus weakens the immune system in cows, which can lead to secondary infections. Cows have died from the virus or have been taken to the slaughterhouse because they did not recover well in five different states. This reportedly involved a still relatively small number of cows. Official figures on the number of cows dead or (put) down are not available.

Vaccinations taken as a precaution
Noteworthy is the news about the company Moderna, also known for COVID-19 vaccinations. Since the avian influenza virus was discovered in American cows, the company's market value has increased by 40%. Governments are said to be stockpiling preventive vaccinations. According to Reuters, the United States has purchased 4.8 million doses of the Australian CSL as a precaution. According to the World Health Organization, the risk to humans remains low for now, despite the spread among dairy cattle in America. The virus is not yet believed to have the ability to easily spread among humans. That situation remains unchanged.

Alex Jurvillier

Alex Jurvillier is a market specialist in sugar and cacao at DCA Market Intelligence. He also monitors the milk supply in the most important dairy countries and keeps an eye on developments in food.