Cows can spread bird flu to humans

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 12 days ago

A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Copenhagen and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis has found that cow udders contain receptors for flu viruses that are similar to those found in humans and birds. This discovery has raised concerns that cows could potentially become "mixing vessels" for the bird flu virus to spread between different species.

The researchers examined tissue samples from cows and a calf, focusing on the receptors present in the udders, brain, and respiratory tract. They found that the udders of the cows contained a high number of flu receptors associated with both birds and humans, particularly the H5N1 virus. This suggests that cows have the potential to act as a mixing vessel for the creation of novel influenza viruses.

In the past, pigs have been considered as potential mixing vessels for flu viruses that could pose a pandemic threat. However, this new study indicates that cows could also play a similar role in the spread of bird flu. The researchers believe that cows could harbor both human and avian flu receptors in their mammary glands, making them potential intermediaries between bird and human flu viruses.

The implications of this research are significant, especially considering the recent outbreaks of bird flu in multiple states. The USDA has reported bird infections in 42 herds across nine states since late March, highlighting the importance of understanding how flu viruses can potentially spread between different species.

Overall, this study sheds light on the potential risks associated with flu viruses in cows and the need for further research to better understand how these viruses can spread and evolve across different species. The findings emphasize the importance of monitoring and controlling the spread of flu viruses to prevent potential pandemics.


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