Health Department advises against raw milk consumption

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 26, 2024

The dairy industry in the United States is currently facing a pressing threat as a case of avian flu, commonly associated with poultry, has been detected in nine states across the country, including in North Carolina. While avian flu typically affects birds, this recent development underscores the potential for cross-species transmission and the need for preventive measures to safeguard both animal and human health. 

Although this influenza strain has not been found widespread in North Carolina, there is still a risk to the state’s dairy industry and public health. Avian flu, caused by influenza viruses that mainly affect birds, can spread among livestock populations and impact agricultural communities. 

While direct transmission from infected dairy cattle to humans is rare, the consumption of unpasteurized or raw milk poses a risk of exposure to harmful pathogens, including avian flu. It is extremely important that consumers exercise caution and adhere to recommended safety guidelines to minimize the risk of contracting the virus.

To mitigate the spread of avian flu and protect both animal and human health, the following preventive measures are strongly recommended:

Practice good hygiene: Maintain proper hand hygiene, including regular handwashing with soap and water, especially after handling animals or contacting potentially contaminated surfaces. 

Ensure proper pasteurization: Consumers are advised to only consume pasteurized dairy products, including milk, cheese and yogurt, as pasteurization effectively eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses. 

More information can be found through the FDA website.