Raw Milk Enthusiasts Are Demanding Milk Infected With Bird Flu

The founder of the Raw Milk Institute and Fresno’s Raw Farm, Mark McAfee, claimed that raw milk enthusiasts are demanding milk infected with bird flu.

Raw Milk Enthusiasts Are Demanding Milk Infected With Bird Flu 1

Citing data indicating a “high viral load” of avian influenza in samples taken from diseased cows and a startling cluster of dead barn cats who had drank tainted raw milk, government scientists are cautioning consumers not to drink raw milk.

Donald Prater, acting head of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, stated, “We continue to strongly advise against the consumption of raw milk.”

However, proponents of raw milk are reinforcing the supposed advantages and security of their preferred potion, asserting that the government’s apprehensions are only “fearmongering.”

The founder of the Raw Milk Institute and Fresno’s Raw Farm, Mark McAfee, claimed that “customers asking for H5N1 milk because they want immunity from it” have been ringing his phone nonstop. (There hasn’t been any evidence of bird flu in California dairy cattle.)

Some who consume raw milk, like Peg Coleman, a medical microbiologist and owner of Coleman Scientific Consulting, a food safety consulting business based in Groton, N.Y., asserted that the government’s cautions are unfounded.

Across the country, Coleman, an advisor to the Raw Milk Institute, has testified as an expert on the advantages of the unpasteurized dairy product in court.

“There’s a fear element. It’s a matter of opinion. It is founded on data from the 19th century. It’s completely absurd,” she exclaimed, citing studies that demonstrate the immune system’s advantages from breast milk and healthy gut biomes.

In honor of the French chemist and father of germ theory Louis Pasteur, milk is heated to a precise temperature for a predetermined amount of time, and then it is quickly cooled. The FDA recently confirmed that pasteurization is an efficient way to eliminate hazardous pathogenic bacteria, other germs, and viruses, including Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Coleman asserts that the likelihood of sickness is exaggerated.

“This is all people’s opinions, their gut feelings, their ignorance,” she said. “I think that if there were a study done, and the microbiota of raw milk drinkers was tested, you might very well find a healthier gut microbiota that’s better able to withstand occasional challenges.”

Health officials and experts in food safety argue that this message is risky and imprudent, particularly because government investigators are currently attempting to determine the scope of dairy herd outbreaks and the potential consequences.

“Deliberating consuming raw milk in the hope of becoming immune to avian influenza is playing Russian roulette with your health,” said Michael Payne, a researcher and outreach coordinator at the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at UC Davis. “Deliberately trying to infect yourself with a known pathogen flies in the face of all medical knowledge and common sense.”

Consuming solely pasteurized milk products is the healthiest method to consume dairy, according to him and other specialists in food safety.

“It’s been the gold standard for more than a century,” he said.

Samples of pasteurized milk marketed for commercial purposes have been proven to contain the highly virulent avian influenza virus, which has been discovered in 36 herds across nine states. Tests have revealed that the virus bits have been neutralized by the pasteurization process, making them inactive.

Conversely, the live virus has been found in raw cow’s milk and colostrum, which is the nutrient-rich milk expressed by mammals in the early postpartum period. A study conducted in Texas and Kansas on dead barn cats from bird flu-infected dairies suggests that contaminated raw milk may pose a threat to humans and other mammals.

It’s plausible that the cats ate sick birds, but the researchers were unable to conclusively demonstrate that the animals contracted the virus through raw milk.

Coleman has seized on this fact, pointing to it as evidence that the government’s admonition about consuming raw milk is unfounded.

“Show me that it infected the cats through the GI tract,” she said. “Otherwise, you are just … crying wolf trying to blame raw milk or saying … that raw milk is inherently dangerous, even when the scientific evidence does not support that opinion.”

She pointed out that the cats’ illnesses had nothing to do with their digestive systems. Rather, they experienced melancholy emotional states, tense physical motions, lack of coordination, discharge from their noses and eyes, and blindness. The cats on the farms died more than half. Even if the cats had caught the virus via the milk, she noted, it was probably from inhaling milk droplets rather than from drinking it.

“Have you ever seen a cat eat?” asked Coleman. “It’s messy. If they got the disease from the milk, it’s probably because they breathed it in.”

The lead researcher for the cat study, Eric Burrough, is a professor and veterinary diagnostic pathologist at Iowa State University. He recognized that some factors were beyond their control and that some factors “we do not know”; the analysis was “diagnostic.”

However, the pattern of infection and death “does not align with random exposure to wild birds,” he added, and he and his team were able to demonstrate that the cats were fed on tainted raw milk containing high amounts of the virus.

Regarding Coleman and McAfee’s assertion that stomach acid and a healthy gut biome would provide defense, he cited earlier research demonstrating that cats that ate wild birds did contract the virus, indicating that those defenses may not be enough to shield mammals from bird flu.

He said that “there is also the possibility that virus could enter via the tonsils in the pharynx of the cats before ingestion in both the bird consumption and milk consumption scenarios.”

Anyway, Payne stated that individuals should think twice before ingesting non-pasteurized dairy products because there is currently enough cause for concern.

Even Coleman admitted that infants and early children might drink milk in a different way than adults because they have a reputation for being messy eaters. Furthermore, “it’s something to think about” with kids if her messy eating theory holds for the cats.

It appears that the virus has not yet developed any genetic modifications that might facilitate its transmission between individuals.

There is now just one known case of the disease being contracted from cattle, and that human is a dairy worker in Texas who became ill in March. Based on a case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, his symptoms were minimal, consisting only of a moderate case of conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

The state and local health officials have examined over 100 patients for symptoms and tested roughly 25 additional individuals for the virus.

The clade, or subvariant, identified as 2.3.4.4b, that was discovered in dairy cattle in the United States in 2020 overtook the original bird flu virus, which was first discovered in China in 1996. Since then, it has killed hundreds of millions of domestic and wild birds worldwide; except Australia, it has been found on every continent. It has also spread to animals, killing at least 48 different species, such as sea lions, dolphins, and elephant seals.

It is currently thought by researchers that this particular lineage of the H5N1 virus was first transmitted to cattle by birds at one location in the Texas Panhandle and that as cows were transferred between farms, the virus propagated from cow to cow. Additionally, there is evidence that diseases have moved from cattle to backyard poultry. Additionally, samples found in wastewater have been found.

Since 2003, there have been 887 confirmed cases of H5N1 influenza in people spread over 23 different countries. 462 of them proved to be lethal. Uncertainty surrounds whether there were more mild cases that remained unreported, which may lower the 52% death rate.

Epidemiologists assert that HPAI is risky and even lethal. They are warning consumers to exercise caution and stay away from raw milk due to the widespread, cross-species transmission of disease.

GreatGameIndia just reported that Dr. Robert Califf, Commissioner of the FDA, stated that they are preparing for the possible spread of bird flu among humans, with one verified case already reported in Texas this year.

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