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Slaughterhouse discovers H5N1 flu virus in sick dairy cow's meat, assures it didn't contaminate food supply, per USDA.

Ill meat from a cow culled for sickness has been found to contain remnants of the H5N1 bird flu infection, according to the US Department of Agriculture, recently. Thankfully, this contaminated meat never got into the food industry.

The USDA announced in late March that a dairy cow had tested positive for H5N1 influenza.
The USDA announced in late March that a dairy cow had tested positive for H5N1 influenza.

Slaughterhouse discovers H5N1 flu virus in sick dairy cow's meat, assures it didn't contaminate food supply, per USDA.

According to the USDA, they discovered H5N1 viral particles in diverse tissues, such as the diaphragm muscle, which lies beneath the lungs. These tests were part of their regular food inspection procedures.

Ever since the USDA announced on March 25 that a dairy cow had contracted H5N1 influenza, researchers have been alert.

H5N1 is a highly contagious strain of bird flu that has been under close observation since its discovery in 1996. It has wiped out numerous wild bird populations and poultry farms, but its impact on humans has been limited. Of the 900 people known to have contracted the virus worldwide since then, about 50% have succumbed to the disease.

In the past two years, the virus has mutated and begun infecting a broader range of mammals. It was believed that cows couldn't catch this particular virus due to a lack of the right receptors on their cells, but they can.

So far, the virus has primarily affected dairy cows' milk, causing mastitis, or an infection of the mammary gland. Milk production decreases, but the cows typically recover within a few weeks.

Two US farmworkers have contracted the virus in conjunction with this ongoing dairy cow outbreak. In both cases, the virus infected their eyes, producing redness and swelling, but they have since recovered.

The presence of H5N1 in a dead cow, following systemic diseases, may indicate that the virus is more harmful than previously believed. It could also indicate that the animal's owners did not test it before it was slaughtered, and there might be more infected cows in the herd.

The USDA disclosed that the cow tested positive for H5N1 on May 22, and that they had informed the owners. They're currently tracking the animal to its herd of origin to gather more information.

The USDA reported that tests on 95 other slaughtered cows whose illnesses had prompted culling had found no signs of the virus as of May 22. Additionally, they are examining approximately a dozen more samples.

The agency used a test known as polymerase chain reaction testing (PCR) to identify genetic material from the H5N1 virus, but they couldn't determine whether this genetic material was infectious and could potentially make someone sick.

Past experiments using a substitute virus as H5N1 found the virus was killed when burgers were cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit (medium). Although cooking burgers to rare (120 degrees) reduced the virus's active presence, it didn't eliminate it entirely. The USDA currently suggests cooking burgers to an internal temperature of 160 degrees to eradicate risky pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.

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Source: edition.cnn.com

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