Canada says its commercial milk tests negative for bird flu

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FILE PHOTO: Cattle wait their turn to be milked on a farm near Rosser, Manitoba, Canada, October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rod Nickel/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Canadian government officials said samples of commercially sold milk as of May 14 have shown “no evidence” of H5N1 bird flu after enhanced testing aimed at alleviating Canadians concerns following the virus’ detection in some U.S. dairy cattle.

Dairy cattle in nine U.S. states have been found to have the virus, prompting warnings to dairy workers even as the threat to the general population is considered low.


Canadian inspectors already tightened import requirements on U.S. breeding cattle this month after the first confirmed case of the H5N1 virus in a dairy herd in March and only the second human case in two years was identified in a dairy farm worker in April, raising concerns about the spread of the virus to animals and people.


“We understand that Canadians may be concerned about the safety of milk and milk products… The method used to test foods for (H5N1) is very sensitive and will detect fragments of the virus, even if the virus is not infectious,” the Canadian government said in a notice posted on Tuesday.


As of Tuesday, Canadian Food Inspection Agency laboratories found no evidence of disease after testing 142 retail milk samples from across the country, the government of Canada said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also tested milk samples and said it found no signs of live virus but cautioned against drinking unpasteurized raw milk.


(Reporting by Susan Heavey; editing by Caroline Humer and Bill Berkrot)

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