CDC confirms 2nd human bird flu case, urges ongoing surveillance

CDC officials, along with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, have confirmed a second case of H5N1 infection in a farmer who regularly worked with livestock, according to a May 22 news release.

The infection was determined to be sporadic and not associated with human-to-human spread, and the general risk to the public remains low, according to the CDC. 

The CDC is also asking health officials in all 50 states to continue monitoring the prevalence of influenza as H5N1 bird flu infections among poultry and livestock increase and have begun to prompt concern over the possibility of human-to-human transmission, according to a May 21 news release shared with Becker's.

Outside of the new case in Michigan, there has only been one other confirmed human infection related to the current H5N1 outbreak. It was seen in a dairy farm employee in Texas, but there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

In both cases, patients presented with eye infection symptoms, according to the CDC.

The CDC's Principal Deputy Director Nirav Shah, MD, and Influenza Division Director Vivien Dugan, PhD, convened with leaders from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, Big Cities Health Coalition, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials to discuss the H5N1 response efforts May 21. 

While H5N1 infections have not yet posed the same threat to humans as it has to poultry and livestock at this time, Dr. Shah underscored the importance of state jurisdictions working alongside clinical laboratories to "increase submissions of positive influenza virus samples to public health laboratories for subtyping," which would determine if the virus is seasonal like influenza A or B, or if it matches the H5N1 strain.

The CDC noted it plans to support state and local health departments in executing these extended H5N1-focused influenza monitoring and response efforts. 

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