Potential Hosts for Human and Bird Flu Viruses

  • 17 May 2024

In a groundbreaking study, researchers found that cattle could harbour human and bird flu viruses, raising alarms about cross-species transmission and the potential for novel influenza strains.

Key Points

  • Cattle as Hosts: A study reveals that cattle may serve as hosts for both human and bird flu viruses.
  • Presence of Influenza A Receptors: Researchers discover three types of influenza A receptors in cattle, similar to those found in humans, chickens, and ducks, challenging the belief that cattle are immune to influenza A viruses.
  • Susceptibility in Mammary Glands: Abundance of influenza receptors, especially the duck variant, in cattle mammary glands suggests a pathway for bird flu transmission to cows, potentially through contaminated milking equipment or bloodstream infiltration.
  • Concerns about Milk Safety: The presence of bird flu in grocery store milk raises concerns about the safety of dairy products, prompting questions about the efficacy of pasteurization in preventing viral transmission.
  • Role of Pasteurization: Health experts emphasize the importance of pasteurization in inactivating viruses, including influenza, making pasteurized milk safe for consumption.
  • Risks of Raw Milk: While raw milk is popular for its perceived health benefits, it carries risks of transmitting infectious diseases, prompting caution from health authorities against its consumption.
  • Need for Vigilance: Despite minimal evidence of human infection through milk consumption, ongoing surveillance and research are crucial to monitor influenza viruses in livestock and mitigate potential public health risks.