With the H5N1 virus (bird flu) showing up in milk from some U.S. cow herds (although not in NH so far), a question arises: What about raw milk? Pasteurization kills off viruses – that’s the whole point – so is there a risk of getting bird flu or related illness if you drink raw milk with H5N1?

Yes, a risk. Enough of a risk that those in the know say to avoid it for the time being, as reported in this StatNews story:

“I absolutely wouldn’t go anywhere near raw milk in terms of consuming it,” said Richard Webby, an influenza virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., whose laboratories have been involved in testing to see if evidence of H5N1 RNA can be found in commercially purchased milk — it can — and whether live virus can be grown from pasteurized milk containing H5N1 RNA. So far it looks like the answer to that question is no.


Jürgen Richt, a veterinarian and director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, spoke with a note of disbelief in his voice about the amount of dead viruses or viral particles being found in commercial milk that tested positive for the virus.

“From [results] I have seen, I wouldn’t want to drink raw milk,” Richt said. “And I wouldn’t feed it to my cats, nor my dogs, nor my calves, if I’m on a farm.”

Pin It on Pinterest