US reports human bird flu case

A person in Texas has tested positive for bird flu, state and federal health officials confirmed April 1. The individual is believed to have been exposed to dairy cattle in Texas presumed to be infected with the H5N1. 

The patient reported eye redness as their only symptom and is recovering, according to the CDC. The individual was told to isolate and is being treated with an antiviral flu medication. 

The case is believed to be tied to recent detections of bird flu among dairy cows in the U.S. On March 29, the Department of Agriculture confirmed cows on dairy farms in Texas, Kansas and Michigan had been sickened by the virus, marking the first time the disease has been found in dairy cattle. While person-to-person transmission of H5N1 viruses is very rare, people who come into contact with infected birds or animals are at a greater risk of contracting the disease. 

"This [human] infection does not change the H5N1 bird flu human health risk assessment for the U.S. general public, which CDC considers to be low," the agency said, adding that it is working closely with state health departments and other federal agencies to monitor the situation. 

"Because influenza viruses constantly change, continued surveillance and preparedness efforts are critical, and the CDC is taking measures in case the public health risk assessment changes. This is a developing situation, and CDC will share additional updates as new relevant information becomes available."

The USDA has also said there are currently no concerns about the nation's commercial milk supply, stating that dairies are required to divert or destroy any milk from affected animals and that the pasteurization process "has continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses." 

The bird flu case in a Texas resident marks the second human case in the U.S. In 2022, a Colorado man who had been working on a poultry farm tested positive for an H5 bird flu virus.

In recent months, avian flu's spread among mammals has elevated concerns about the risk the disease may pose to humans. Experts maintain the risk to humans is low, but that enhanced surveillance and continued research is needed as it continues to spread among other animals. In human cases, the disease carries a high mortality rate.

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