USDA: Dairy Cows Must Be Tested for Bird Flu Before Moving Between States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a federal order stating that lactating dairy cattle are required to receive a negative test for Influenza A virus before moving between states. This comes after an outbreak of the avian influenza, also known as the bird flu, in cows was detected in the United States in March.

The order, which takes effect on April 29, covers lactating dairy cattle, with testing requirements for other dairy cows "based on scientific factors concerning the virus and its evolving risk profile," the USDA said.

Authorities say the risk to the public is low and testing of the flu samples has uncovered no signs that the virus has changed to make it more transmissible to people or among people.

Bird flu cases have rarely appeared among humans in the United States but hundreds have been confirmed worldwide since 2003. Through April 1, out of 889 cases across 23 countries, 463 resulted in death, according to the World Health Organization.

Jeremy Farrar, the organization's chief scientist, said recently the spread to ruminants raised concerns that the virus could develop the ability to transmit between humans. If that happens, then it's crucial to quickly respond with vaccines, testing, and treatments, he said.

Several vaccines against H5N1 have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but manufacturers would need to receive fresh clearance for updated formulations, an agency spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

The manufacturers, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and CSL Seqirus, said in statements they are monitoring avian flu and stand ready to develop avian influenza vaccines as needed.

At this point, no beef cattle are known to have been infected with the virus.

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