Cows May Serve as Incubators of Avian Flu, Increasing Threat of Human Infection


Last year, dairy cow herds across the US began to suffer from a “mystery illness” that would later be identified as Avian Flu. This virus, also known as bird flu, had mainly affected wild and domesticated birds in the past. The virus has killed hundreds of millions of poultry birds worldwide since 2021, threatening farmers’ livelihoods and sending egg and poultry prices sky high. While the virus was still confined to birds, the direct health risks to humans were extremely low. The recent jump to cows, and other mammals, raises the dangers of a human pandemic. This is because cows, and some other mammals, are more biologically similar to humans than birds. Findings from a new study show that cows have the same flu receptors as humans. In other words, the virus uses the same door to infect the cells in people and cows. The virus can therefore use cows as a “scaffolding” through which it develops mutations that allow it to infect humans more easily. The longer the virus continues to mutate within cows, the higher the chance it will evolve to infect humans with ease.

Full Story: CNN