Bird flu first observed in alpacas

WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Bird flu has been detected in alpacas for the first time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday.

The animals that tested positive were on a farm in Idaho where poultry that tested positive for the H5N1 virus was culled in May. The alpacas tested positive on May 16, the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) said in a news release.

The NVSL added that it “has confirmed that the viral genome sequence for these samples is the same sequence currently circulating in dairy cattle… which is consistent with the depopulated poultry sequences at this site.”

The USDA noted that the discovery of other infected animals on the same farm as the infected birds were not unexpected.

According to the Alpaca Owners Association, there are more than 264,000 registered alpacas in the United States.

Scientists have been tracking the H5N1 virus for almost twenty years. For most of that time, it has mainly affected birds.

But in the past two years the virus has infected a wider range of wild and farmed mammals, raising concerns that it could become a virus that is easily transmitted between people. CNN reported.

Over the years, human cases have been confirmed around the world, including three in the United States, but no person-to-person transmission has been reported during the ongoing dairy cow outbreak.

More information

The CDC has more on bird flu.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture, press release, May 29, 2024; CNN

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