Market News & Headlines >> Human Bird Flu Case Sends Cattle Futures Plummeting

A report that a person in Texas was being treated for bird flu after being exposed to dairy cows presumed to be infected with the virus sent live cattle and feeder cattle futures plummeting in the final minutes of trading on Monday.

The patient, whose only symptom was eye inflammation, was tested for flu late last week, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirming a positive test for the H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus.

This is the second known human case of bird flu caused by the HPAI virus. In 2022, a person in Colorado tested positive for the same strain of bird flu. That person was involved in culling of poultry that were presumed to have H5N1 bird flu.

The new infection “does not change the health risk assessment for bird flu among the U.S. general public, a risk that the CDC considers to be low,” the CDC in a press release on Monday. “However, people with close or prolonged, unprotected exposures to infected birds or other animals (including livestock), or to environments contaminated by infected birds or other animals, are at greater risk of infection,” the agency said.

HPAI has recently spread to a number of dairy cow herds. On March 25, USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed HPAI had been detected in two dairy herds in Texas and two in Kansas. USDA’s National Veterinary Laboratories later confirmed HPAI in a Michigan dairy herd that had recently received cows from Texas and also in dairy herds in Idaho and New Mexico.

According to FDA and USDA, there are no concerns with the safety of the commercial milk supply at this time because products are pasteurized before entering the market. Dairies are required to send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption; milk from impacted animals is being diverted or destroyed so that it does not enter the human food supply.