Wednesday, May 29, 2024

What to Know About the Bird Flu That Has Spread in Multiple States

Earlier this month, a Texas dairy worker tested positive for the bird flu, amid an outbreak of the avian influenza virus among cows. The same virus has also been detected in raw milk, though the risk to the public remains low, according to officials.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the first time the H5N1 avian influenza virus has been detected in cattle. It’s also the first documented case of cow-to-human transmission of the virus.

bird flu
The current H5N1 avian influenza virus outbreak has spread to eight states

The dairy worker who tested positive is only the second case of avian flu in a human ever to be reported in the U.S.

While there’s no evidence that the highly pathogenic virus can transfer from human to human, health officials are remaining on high alert.

In a recent press conference, an expert at the World Health Organization representative described the risk of human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus as ‘an enormous concern’. Dr. Jeremy Farrar, the chief scientist at WHO, also warned that the virus is increasingly infecting mammals.

The Current Bird Flu Outbreak

cattle The current outbreak is affecting cattle in more than a dozen dairy farms across the United States. While the risk to humans remains low, authorities will be increasing monitoring of infected cattle and those who come into contact with them.

While the term ‘bird flu’ may alarm many individuals, however, the avian influenza virus is not new or novel. In fact, it has been circulating for quite some time, according to Dr. Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases.

According to the CDC, the same virus is widespread among wild birds and is also causing an outbreak among poultry across the United States.

About the Bird Flu

Bird flu is an infection that’s caused by the avian influenza Type A virus. It typically affects wild birds such as ducks, geese, and swans, but can also infect domestic poultry.

Occasionally, the virus can also enter and affect other mammalian species like pigs, dogs, and horses. Rarely, they can also spread to humans.

bird flu 1
The H5N1 virus is often lethal for wild birds and poultry

For example, an individual can become infected if they come into direct contact with an infected bird, contaminated environments with the H5N1 virus, or through an intermediate host, such as a cow.

There’s currently no evidence that the virus can spread to humans through eggs that have been properly prepared and cooked.

In the recent months, the virus has also been infecting an increasing amount of cattle in the United States. This is the first time the H5N1 virus was found in cows, though experts have noted that while the strain is often lethal to birds, it does not make the cows very sick.

What States Have Confirmed Cases?

The current H5N1 outbreak affecting cattle has spread to eight states so far, including Texas, Michigan, Kansas, Idaho, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Dakota.

So far, only one human has contracted the virus in the outbreak. However, it’s currently unknown how the dairy worker became infected.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here