Following the detection of high concentrations of the H5N1 virus in the milk of cows infected with bird flu in the US, the World Health Organization today recommended the implementation of “reasonable” food safety measures, such as the use of pasteurized milk.

Research is currently underway to determine how long the virus can survive in milk, and the WHO has asked everyone to be vigilant. “While studies are ongoing, it is important that people practice safe dietary practices, such as consuming only pasteurized milk,” Dr. Wenqing Zhang, the head of WHO’s global influenza program, said in the organization’s regular update. in Geneva.

“We are now seeing that many cow herds are infected, in an increasing number of US States, which indicates that this is a new phase in the spread of the virus in mammals,” he added.

Health authorities in Texas, where the first case of cow-to-human transmission of the virus was detected, stressed that there was no risk to consumers because it is mandatory to destroy milk from sick cattle. Pasteurization, the heat treatment of milk, kills the virus.

Outbreaks of A(H5N1) virus among humans are rare and are associated with their contact with sick animals or their contact with a contaminated environment. There is currently no evidence that the virus is transmitted from person to person, but scientists are concerned that its spread will facilitate the emergence of a mutation.

From the beginning of 2023 until April 1, 2024, the WHO recorded a total of 889 cases of bird flu in humans, in 23 countries. Of these, 463 died, i.e. the mortality rate is 52%.