Home » U.S. Government Pledges Over $100 Million to Tackle Bird Flu in Dairy Cattle

U.S. Government Pledges Over $100 Million to Tackle Bird Flu in Dairy Cattle

by Richard A Reagan

In a significant move to address the bird flu outbreak affecting dairy cows across multiple states, U.S. health and agriculture authorities have announced substantial funding and support measures. 

The outbreak has impacted over 40 herds in nine states, a critical challenge to the agriculture sector and food safety.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf stressed the need for prompt countermeasures to prevent any mutation of the virus that could pose a greater risk to humans. 

“If we implement these countermeasures now, we significantly reduce the risk of a mutation that could jump to humans,” Califf stated during a Senate appropriations meeting. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has committed $101 million to improve efforts to prevent, test, track, and treat both animals and humans potentially affected by the Type A H5N1 virus.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering up to $28,000 per farm to aid in testing cattle and improving biosecurity measures to curb the virus’s spread.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained that the outbreak remains within the same nine states, which is a positive sign in our ongoing efforts to control this situation.

“It’s still in the same nine states and that’s the most positive thing about where we are,” Vilsack told reporters.

Further support comes in the form of compensation for dairy farmers for the lost milk production, a direct consequence of the sickness affecting the cows.

Moreover, both dairy farmers and farm workers are encouraged to participate in a workplace study spearheaded by the USDA and CDC, with compensation provided.

Despite these measures, there has been hesitancy among farmers and farm workers regarding testing. Many are reluctant to be tested due to work disruption and privacy concerns. This has been particularly true among migrant workers, who fear both job loss and undue government attention.

Keith Poulsen, director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, expressed optimism about the new incentives: “It provides the latitude and capacity to start moving in the right direction.”

The urgency of these measures was underscored by a mild eye infection contracted by a Texas dairy worker, the first confirmed human case linked to this outbreak. The worker recovered, and extensive testing of others exposed has so far yielded negative results.

Addressing potential public health risks, remnants of the virus were detected in grocery store dairy products. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed that standard pasteurization processes effectively eliminate the virus. “The risk to the public from this outbreak remains low,” assured Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

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