Avian Flu: First American Contracts Virus in Latest Outbreak
A birdkeeper is now the first person in the United States documented as having contracted the avian flu.
The case is out of the state of Colorado and has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although avian flu has been detected in both wild and domestic birds in New York State, thus far the virus has not been detected in human beings in the Empire State.
This is the second case in the world since this latest outbreak was detected. The first case in the world was detected in December of 2021 in a person in the United Kingdom who raised birds. The CDC says that the virus in these cases is different from the strain of H5N1 that affected nearly 880 people in 2003.
The person had poultry that was infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza and was actively involved in the culling of that poultry when the patient, according to the CDC, was feeling fatigued. That fatigue was the only symptom and the patient has since recovered.
The patient is being treated with the drug oseltamivir, a drug commonly used to treat the symptoms of flu and sold under the brand name "Tamiflu."
The CDC cautions that the positive test may be the result of contamination with handling surfaces, but is erring on the side of caution and treating this case as an infection. Others who were present and involved in the culling are being tested and re-tested "out of an abundance of caution" according to the CDC. As of this posting no other positive results have occurred.
Since the CDC has begun tracking these cases since the recent discovery of Avian Influenza in the latter part of 2021 more than 2,500 people have been tested. This is the only positive case thus far. Authorities say that at this time the "public health risk assessment remains low." The agency cautions, "However, people who have job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds are at higher risk of infection [and] should take appropriate precautions outlined in CDC guidance."
The CDC says, "Infected birds shed H5N1 viruses in their saliva, mucous and feces," and those in contact with birds at risk should take precautions to cover their eyes, nose, and mouth.
The H5N1 virus has, as of this posting, been found in both commercial and backyard bird populations in 29 states and in wild birds in 34 states.
Multiple federal and state agencies are working together to prevent spread of the H5N1 virus among birds and people. Human cases should be reported to the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC.
Authorities encourage consumers to properly handle living and dead birds, cook poultry and eggs thoroughly, and wearing protective coverings near birds suspected of being infected. Cooking poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165-degrees Fahrenheit (73.8-degrees Celsius) kills H5N1 and other bacteria and viruses.
In New York suspected cases of avian flu in sick or dead chickens, turkeys, and other poultry should be reported to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets at: (518) 457.3502.
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