Bird Flu Spotted in Alpacas for First Time

Bird flu has been detected for the first time in alpacas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday.

The animals that tested positive were on a farm in Idaho where poultry that had tested positive for the H5N1 virus were 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 sequences from the depopulated poultry on this premises.”

The USDA noted that the finding of other infected animals on the same farm as the infected birds wasn’t unexpected.

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

Scientists have tracked the H5N1 virus for nearly two decades. For most of that time, it has primarily struck birds.

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

Human cases have been confirmed around the globe over the years, including three in the United States, but no person-to-person transmission has been reported in the ongoing dairy cow outbreak.

More information

The CDC has more on bird flu.

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

Source: HealthDay

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