Sunday 5 May 2024

Avian flu puts cow cuddling under threat

In America, a lot of small farmers rely on selling their cow cuddling services to the public to pay for the running of their farms such as purchasing bales of hay. It seems to me that to these small farm holders cow cuddling is a nice source of added income which supplements their regular income. That's the benefit from the farmer's point of view. 

Of course, there is a benefit from the customer's point of view because cow cuddling is known to be very therapeutic. There are other long-term gains such as understanding that cows are sentient beings. I can remember very clearly a video of a farmer in Europe had a great relationship with his farm animals including his cows. 

These relationships are very similar to those that one finds between companion dogs or cats and their caregivers. Cows are great animals although we treat them as livestock be used for the benefit of humankind.

We don't know for sure how people can contract avian influenza from cows but a person exposed to infected cattle on a farm in Texas tested positive for H5N1. They were the second documented case of human infection of the virus in the United States.

Although we don't know specifically how people are infected it is due to close contact with infected animals. Perhaps, and I'm guessing here, saliva is passed from cow to person and the saliva contains the virus. Most people who have fallen ill with H5N1 have had close contact with infected animals typically poultry.

The best of my knowledge, a person who contracted H5N1 was not seriously ill. The individual referred to above was treated for a single symptom of eye redness and they received antiviral medication. There was a case in the UK. The man contracted the disease from ducks. He was successfully treated.

In America, the CDC considered the risk of H5N1 being transferred to people as low but precautions are necessary. Milk from infected cows needs to be discarded although pasteurisation of milk kills the virus. Barn cats caught the disease from drinking infected milk on a Texas farm. It killed 12 of 24 cats in days.

Avian flu killed 12 Texas farm cats in four days after getting the disease from cattle

Perhaps the big problem for the cow cuddling businesses is that customers will no longer want to cuddle cows knowing that there is a potential risk of contracting this disease. This is the problem rather than the farms having to stop selling the service. Although they will probably do it voluntarily as they'd be exposed not only to the virus but to a claim for compensation through the courts! 😒🤢

In summary, while the risk of transmission from cows to humans remains low, health authorities are closely monitoring the situation and taking precautions. Some people who want to cuddle cows will also be taking precautions if they are aware of this zoonosis and avoid cows.

Some more on avian flu infecting people

Avian flu, also known as bird flu, is an infectious type of influenza that primarily affects birds. However, in rare cases, it can also infect humans. Here are some key points about avian flu:

Strains of Bird Flu Virus:

  • Most bird flu viruses do not infect humans. However, there are four strains that have caused concern:
  • H5N1 (since 1997)
  • H7N9 (since 2013)
  • H5N6 (since 2014)
  • H5N8 (since 2016)
  • While these strains don’t easily infect people and are not usually spread from human to human, there have been cases of human infection worldwide, leading to fatalities.
How Bird Flu Spreads to Humans:
  • Bird flu is primarily spread through close contact with infected birds (dead or alive).
  • This includes touching infected birds, their droppings, or bedding.
  • Markets where live birds are sold can also be a source of bird flu.
  • Eating fully cooked poultry or eggs does not transmit bird flu, even in areas with outbreaks.

Symptoms in Humans:

  • The main symptoms of bird flu can appear rapidly and include:
  • Very high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • Aching muscles
  • Headache
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Other early symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, chest pain, bleeding from the nose and gums, and conjunctivitis.
  • Severe complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome can develop within days of symptoms appearing.

Treatment and Prevention:

  • Antiviral medications can help prevent complications if administered promptly.
  • Prevention measures include avoiding contact with infected birds, practicing good hygiene, and cooking meat thoroughly.
  • There is no specific bird flu vaccine available.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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