WHO flu program head says bird flu risk could spread to cows outside of US

May 1, 2024 by No Comments

A WHO official said on Tuesday there is a risk of the H5N1 bird flu virus spreading to cows in other countries beyond the United States through migratory birds. U.S. officials are seeking to verify the safety of milk and meat after confirming the H5N1 virus in 34 dairy cattle herds across nine states since late March, and in one person in Texas. “With the virus carried around the world by migratory birds, there is certainly a risk for cows in other countries to become infected,” said Wenqing Zhang, head of WHO’s Global Influenza Programme at a news briefing in Geneva. She reiterated that WHO considers the overall public health risk posed by the virus to be low but urged vigilance. When asked to evaluate U.S. transparency on the outbreak so far, Zhang said the global body had received regular updates and praised a decision to share the virus genetic sequence early. “I do think the collaboration with CDC and the information we’ve received so far enables us to monitor the situation and to update the preparedness measures,” she said.