Human flu hits cows?

12 November 1999

Human flu hits cows?

HUMAN type flu may be a significant pathogen of UK cattle, following further tests which reveal antibodies in herds which have suffered milk drop syndrome.

New tests on samples collected from 40 cows in five herds show human influenza A antibodies in over 60% of cows, according to Roger Gunnings report in the Vet Record, Nov 6. It was detected in at least two cows from all of the herds tested.

First identified on two farms by the Vet Lab Agency at the end of last year (Livestock, Dec 18), the presence of influenza A virus antibodies in cows indicates that the likelihood is that they suffer influenza A. But an active virus has yet to be isolated.

Following that finding, Mr Gunning of the VLA, Langford, Bristol, began testing samples from herds suffering milk drop syndrome. This is where a cows milk yield falls but recovers within a week or two. Cases usually occur in one or two cows at a time, but can affect many cows over a longer period, he explains.

"In one herd clinical cases occurred sporadically throughout the year-long period of investigation," he says. He also reports a lack of consistent antibody response to any other cause of milk drop syndrome, such as bovine viral diarrhoea or infectious bovine rhinotraceitis. &#42

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