Influenza H5N1 and H1N1 viruses remain infectious in unpasteurized milk on milking machinery surfaces

Spillover of highly pathogenic avian H5N1 into the cattle population poses a risk to humans through the close contact with farm workers. High viral loads of influenza viruses in the unpasteurized milk of infected lactating cows has the potential to contaminate equipment within milking parlors and create fomites for transmission to dairy workers. Cattle H5N1 and human 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza viruses were found to remain infectious on surfaces commonly found in milking equipment materials for a few hours. The data presented here provide a compelling case for the risk of contaminated surfaces generated during milking to facilitate transmission of H5N1 from cattle-to-cattle and to dairy farm workers.