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Michigan Dairy Farm Worker Catches Bird Flu

May 23, 2024
The person, who has recovered, would be the second human in this current outbreak, which has spread from poultry flocks to dairy farms in the U.S.

On May 22, the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services announced a farm worker in that state contracted avian influenza (bird flu) apparently from prolonged contact with infected dairy cattle.

“The Michigan farmworker diagnosed with influenza A (H5) had mild symptoms and has recovered,” the state said. “To protect farm and farmworker privacy, additional details are not being provided.”

He/she would be the third human ever to catch bird flu in the U.S., the second in this current outbreak of avian influenza. The first was a Texas dairy farm worker at the end of March, and he too recovered quickly. A Colorado person in 2022 apparently was the first to contract the disease from farm animals.

The virus has been circulating in poultry and then dairy farms across the U.S. this spring. To date, the strain H5N1 has been confirmed positive in approximately 52 dairy herds in nine states, according to the International Dairy Foods Assn.

Following its transmission to dairy cows, the FDA found inactive fragments of the virus – incapable of spreading the disease – in 20% of pasteurized milk samples. The agency says pasteurization appears to kill the disease, but FDA says people should not consume raw milk. Testing is under way on pooled raw milk.

Since then, USDA has begun testing ground meat for the disease, and both agencies are preparing plans if this ever expands into a Covid-like pandemic.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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