WHO says bird flu risk currently low, asks countries to remain vigilant

By Thomson Reuters Apr 26, 2024 | 12:29 PM

(Reuters) -The current overall public health risk posed by the H5N1 bird flu virus is low, the World Health Organization said on Friday, but urged countries to stay alert for cases of animal-to-human transmission.

The UN-agency said countries should implement infection control measures and procedures to reduce human exposure to birds and mammals potentially infected with bird flu or other animal influenza viruses.

The WHO said it strongly advises that people consume only pasteurized milk, in which bacteria and viruses have been killed, and avoid consuming raw milk.

“The virus has been detected in milk and its potential role in transmission is being investigated,” the agency added.

One in five commercial milk samples tested in a nationwide survey contained particles of the H5N1 virus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said late on Thursday, suggesting the outbreak is more widespread in the country than previously thought.

U.S. officials have strengthened measures to contain the first known outbreak of the H5N1 virus in dairy cows, which has now spread to 33 herds in eight states.

(Reporting by Urvi Dugar and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Berkrot)