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Experts available for interviews on H5N1

April 30, 2024

The avian flu H5N1 has made the jump to mammals, including cattle, and inactive remnants of the virus have been found in grocery store milk. Experts from UW–Madison are available to discuss questions about H5N1 risk to human health, pets and more.


H5N1 update from UW–Madison experts

In the last few months, the same strain of bird flu virus that has been circulating since 2022 has spread to dairy herds, with confirmed infections in at least nine states.

Researchers are keeping a close eye on the virus and its spread and are analyzing infected raw milk to understand what risks may exist. More research is underway to determine whether the virus is spreading from mammal to mammal, if it spreads through means other than respiratory, and how widespread it is in dairy herds.

Experts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are assisting these efforts with an eye toward minimizing risk to human health and protecting the state’s agricultural sector.

We touched base with several of those experts to get an idea of what scientists know so far about the developing outbreak, including how the virus may affect dairy products and the industry and what people may need to look out for in themselves, their herds or flocks, and their pets. Read the full story here.

Contact: Elise Mahon,


Avian flu in dairy cows and milk

The USDA has been tracking a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza in dairy herds across the country. Keith Poulsen, an expert in zoonotic disease and director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, can discuss the disease, how it is spreading and what Wisconsinites should watch for in their herds.

Contact: Keith Poulsen,

Zoonotic disease and human health

Professor of pathobiological sciences, Thomas Friedrich, studies how viruses from animals could cross over to humans. Friedrich is available for interviews about the potential human risk from H5N1 and which factors scientists are tracking as they monitor current risk.

Contact: Thomas Friedrich,

Tracking H5N1

David O’Connor is an expert on novel viral pathogen emergence in human populations and a professor of pathology and medicine. He can discuss what we know about the bird flu’s current risk to human health.

Contact: David O’Connor,

H5N1 and pet risk

As H5N1 jumps from birds to mammals, zoonotic disease expert and clinical assistant professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine Erin Lashnits is available to discuss the risk to pets and address pet owners’ concerns.

Contact: Erin Lashnits,

H5N1 and human risk

Peter Halfmann, expert in emerging and zoonotic viral diseases and research associate professor, is available for interviews bird flu and his and colleagues’ current efforts to understand what happens to the virus in milk during pasteurization.

Contact: Peter Halfmann,

Economic impact on food prices

Andrew W. Stevens is an expert in agricultural production, consumer food demand and food security. Stevens is available to discuss the potential impact of H5N1 on the supply of products like eggs and milk.

Contact: Andrew W. Stevens,

More experts on news and current events can be found on the UW–Madison Experts Database.





Tags: media tips