FDA Issues Warning: New Virus Mutating with a 25% Kill Rate

(Daily360.com) FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told a Senate committee that he has concerns about the bird flu spreading to humans and causing a 25% fatality rate. He said it is important to prepare for the possibility that the virus mutates and starts infecting humans. Califf referred to other places in the world where the virus has infected the lungs of humans. In those cases, according to Califf, one out of every four infections caused death.

Califf said they are currently working on antiviral medicines and vaccines to tackle the problem if it does transfer to humans. The avian flu has been detected in 36 cow herds in at least nine states. As the virus transfers to different species, the mutations might make it more easily transmissible to humans.

The FDA has detected the bird flu in grocery store milk, cottage cheese, and sour cream. The FDA said it is safe to consume these products, because pasteurized milk products do not contain the live virus. The CDC said the virus has pandemic potential.

Scientists believe the virus is spreading wider than reported because one out of five milk samples contained remnants of the virus. The FDA has cautioned against drinking raw milk, but has always advocated against drinking raw milk for concerns of food-borne illness.

The avian flu is synonymous with the term bird flu, so consumers have wondered if there is a concern about consuming eggs. The FDA says the risk is very low and gives no warning against the egg consumption during this avian flu outbreak. The only warning the FDA has provided is against the consumption of raw milk.

In April, the largest egg producer in the U.S. had detected bird flu in their flock. This led to the culling of two million chickens to prevent the spread of the illness. As large egg producers kill their entire flocks, egg prices are expected to rise and egg shortages are likely to happen at grocery stores around the country.

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