CDC Issues Avian Influenza Pandemic Health Alert

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Issued a health warning Friday to notify health centers and the public of a confirmed bird flu case.

A farm worker at a commercial dairy in Texas developed conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, on March 27 and later tested positive for “highly pathogenic avian influenza” (HPAI), the CDC said.

HPAI viruses have been reported in dairy cattle and wild birds in the Texas region, but prior to this incident, there were no previous reports of HPAI transmission from cattle to humans.

The patient reported no other symptoms and was not hospitalized. The person has received antiviral treatment and is recovering and the patient's household members have not become ill, the CDC said.

“There have been no additional cases of human infection with HPAI A(H5N1) virus associated with current infections in dairy cattle and poultry in the United States, and human-to-human transmission of HPAI A(H5N1) virus has not been detected.” The CDC said.

The CDC said it tested the patient's virus genome and sequences from cattle, wild birds and chickens. It found minor changes, both of which were “not changes that would have made them better able to infect mammals.”

The USDA has confirmed infections in dairy cows in five states — Texas, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico — and Idaho's results are “presumed” positive. The CDC said the spread was likely due to the movement of livestock across state lines.

States such as Nebraska have imposed temporary restrictions on livestock imports due to bird flu.

The patient in Texas is the second person in the United States to test positive for the disease. A patient who had contact with infected chickens tested positive in Colorado in April 2022.

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The risk is low, but people in jobs or recreational activities that may expose them to infected birds, livestock or other animals are at higher risk and should take precautions, the CDC said.

The virus has been shown to be deadly, killing more than 50 percent of humans from 2003 to 2016. The current outbreak has affected 82 million birds in 48 states, making it the worst bird flu in US history.

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