USDA Discovers Bird Flu in Alpacas, Raises Concerns for Farm Contamination

USDA Discovers Bird Flu in Alpacas
USDA Discovers Bird Flu in Alpacas. Credit | Getty images

United States – A drastic instance is Bird flu in alpacas, which was recently detected by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), highlighting that this virus spreads across various other animals other than birds. The infected animals were found in Idaho, where samples from poultry birds were earlier detected carrying H5N1 virus early this May, Alpaca had been detected with the virus on 16 May through USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). The NVSL found that the alpaca samples had similar viral genome sequence to that of the dairy cattle on the same farm with sequences from depopulated poultry. This is because this finding establishes the possibility of cross species transmission as well as contaminated environment with regard to agricultural establishments, as reported by HealthDay.

Impact on Agriculture

USDA has expressed concerns that other animals on the infected farm may have already been exposed to the virus, raising alarm bells within the agricultural community. With over 264 thousand alpacas in the United States, of which 208 thousand are registered by the Alpaca Owners Association, the discovery raises questions about the potential impact on the agricultural sector. Beyond the immediate implications for alpaca farming, there are broader implications for biosecurity measures and disease management protocols on farms nationwide.

Global Surveillance

Scientific interest in the H5N1 virus has been active for almost two decades and in that duration the virus mainly impacted birds. However, in recent years it has further attacked even wild and farm raised mammals and therefore underlines a terrible change in the virus. The transmission of the virus through the aerosol has raised more concern in inter-human transmission as noted by CNN. Though other human form outbreaks have been reported globally inclusive of three in the US, the current human form outbreak involving dairy cows has not evidenced any sign of direct human connection transmission as postulated by HealthDay. To prevent the virus from spreading and mutating to even become a future threat to public health, significant efforts should be made to keep watchful for the virus around the world.