Mice suffered high levels of bird flu after being fed raw milk: study

Mice suffered high levels of bird flu after being fed raw milk, according to a new study published Friday amid warnings from public health officials not to drink the unpasteurized dairy product.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory gave drops of raw milk from infected cows to five mice. On the first day, they showed signs of illness, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers found high levels of the virus in the trachea, nasal passages and lungs of the mice, the study said. Lower amounts were found in other organs. They also found that levels of bird flu decreased when the milk was stored at a lower refrigerator temperature, but the authors cautioned that the research settings were not identical to large-scale industrial pasteurization of raw milk.

A farm worker in Michigan this week became the second person confirmed to have been infected with bird flu. Both people had mild complaints and have since recovered.

Bird flu was first spotted in cows two months ago and has since been found in 51 herds and nine states.

But scientists and public health officials say the U.S. is not conducting enough testing to capture the full spectrum of the spread.

Bird flu has caused deadly infections around the world. The virus has been circulating in at least 23 countries since 2003 and has caused about 900 cases in humans, mostly people who came near infected birds.

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