Person diagnosed with bird flu in Texas, health officials say | Bird flu

Posted by

A person in Texas has been diagnosed with bird flu, an infection tied to the recent discovery of the virus in dairy cows, health officials said Monday.

The patient is being treated with an antiviral drug and their only reported symptom was eye redness, Texas health officials said. The person had been contact with dairy cows presumed to be infected, officials reported.

The development comes after milk from dairy cows in Texas and Kansas tested positive for bird flu last week and federal agriculture officials confirmed infections in a Michigan dairy herd that had recently received cows from Texas. While the infections have raised alarm, health officials have said the risk to people remains low and that the commercial milk supply is safe as such products are pasteurized before being sold.

Dairy producers have implemented additional biosecurity efforts in response to the infections, including limiting the amount of traffic into and out of farms as well as restricting visits to employees and essential personnel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday that while the risk to the general public is low, those with close, prolonged and unprotected exposures to infected animals are at greater risk. The CDC will monitor those who may have come into contact with potentially infected animals, the agency said in a statement.

“CDC is working closely with state and federal agencies, including USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and local health authorities to further investigate and closely monitor this situation,” the agency said.

The virus has been found in hundreds of mammal species globally in recent years.

This bird flu was first identified as a threat to people during a 1997 outbreak in Hong Kong. More than 460 people have died in the past two decades from bird flu infections, according to the World Health Organization.

The vast majority of infected people got it directly from birds, but scientists have been on guard for any sign of spread among people.

It’s only the second time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program contracted the illness while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose county, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered.

The virus can cause a range of illnesses from eye infection and upper respiratory illnesses to more severe cases, such as pneumonia, and has caused death, the CDC said.

Texas officials didn’t identify the newly infected person, and have not yet released any details about what brought them in contact with the cows.