CDC Says Over a Dozen Cats Died After Drinking Raw Milk from Cows Infected with Bird Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Monday that over a dozen cats have died on a Texas dairy farm after drinking raw milk from cows infected with bird flu.

The CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have confirmed that traces of Bird Flu have also been found in commercial milk — but claim it is safe for humans to drink anyway.

The Hill reports, “Scientists reported that in mid-March, about 24 cats were fed raw milk at a Texas farm before the cows were known to be sick. One day after the cows showed visible signs of illness, the cats also became sick, and one to two days later, more than half of the cats grew ill and died.”

“In early March 2024, similar clinical cases were reported in dairy cattle in southwestern Kansas and northeastern New Mexico; deaths of wild birds and domestic cats were also observed within affected sites in the Texas panhandle,” the CDC wrote in the new report.

“In >1 dairy farms in Texas, deaths occurred in domestic cats fed raw colostrum and milk from sick cows that were in the hospital parlor. Antemortem clinical signs in affected cats were depressed mental state, stiff body movements, ataxia, blindness, circling, and copious oculonasal discharge. Neurologic exams of affected cats revealed the absence of menace reflexes and pupillary light responses with a weak blink response.”

The scientists wrote, “This case series differs from most previous reports of IAV infection in bovids, which indicated cattle were inapparently infected or resistant to infection.”

“We describe an H5N1 strain of IAV in dairy cattle that resulted in apparent systemic illness, reduced milk production, and abundant virus shedding in milk. The magnitude of this finding is further emphasized by the high death rate (≈50%) of cats on farm premises that were fed raw colostrum and milk from affected cows”

The FDA is warning against humans consuming raw milk.

“The FDA has a long-standing recommendation to consumers not to consume raw milk (milk that has not been pasteurized). Because of the limited information available about the possible transmission of H5N1 virus via raw milk, the FDA continues to recommend that industry does not manufacture or sell raw milk or raw milk products, including raw milk cheese, made with milk from cows showing symptoms of illness, including those infected with avian influenza viruses or exposed to those infected with avian influenza viruses.”

Dairy cows in Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and South Dakota have tested positive for the Type A H5N1 virus.

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