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Bird flu explained: How it spreads, milk and egg safety and more

After a dairy worker in Texas was infected with a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu, disease trackers worry the recent outbreak among cattle could develop into a larger threat. Federal officials are now requiring lactating dairy cows to test negative for the virus before moving across state lines.

The risk to the general public remains low, but experts are concerned about the possibility of the H5N1 virus evolving and more easily spreading from birds to other mammals. Here's what to know about bird flu, its symptoms and treatment, and its risk to humans and pets.

What is bird flu?

Avian influenza is a disease caused by influenza A viruses that spread widely among wild birds, particularly aquatic birds, birds of prey and waterfowl, but also domestic birds such as poultry. In the United States, highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in more than 9,000 wild birds and has affected more than 82 million commercial poultry and backyard flocks since early 2022, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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