CDC asks health officials to screen for bird flu

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is once again sounding the alarm bell on bird flu, and is asking health officials in all 50 states to continue monitoring the prevalence of H5N1 infections even during the warmer months.

The CDC’s request comes on the heels of the second human case in the United States linked to the virus this year. A Michigan dairy worker was diagnosed with bird flu just this week, according to NPR, and had reportedly been in contact with cows that were assumed to be infected. The dairy worker experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered. 

Prior to that, there had been only one human infection reported this year, which took place in Texas in March. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had reported the detection of bird flu in dairy cattle in several states at that time, and on March 27 a worker at a commercial dairy farm in Texas developed conjunctivitis and subsequently tested positive for infection.

The virus had been reported in the area’s cattle and wild birds, though there have been no previous reports of the spread of the virus from cows to humans. The patient was not hospitalized, but was urged to isolate and received antiviral treatment with oseltamivir. The illness was not detected in his household family members, and to date no human-to-human transmission has been identified in the U.S.

The Michigan patient is just the third in the U.S. to test positive for the virus. The first was in April 2022 in Colorado, when someone had contact with poultry that was presumed to be infected.

While respiratory viruses tend to spread more easily during colder months, bird flu infections among poultry and livestock have been on the rise, spurring concern over whether the virus could see human-to-human transmission, the CDD said.


The CDC has asked jurisdictions to bump up the amount of positive flu samples they submit to public health laboratories for subtyping, which is where the specific type of influenza virus is determined. Estimates indicate that more than 600 positive samples per week could be subtyped and collected nationally.

Currently, the outbreak has been detected in 51 herds in nine states over the past two months. No cattle have been killed, but officials are concerned about the possibility the virus evolving to be better at mammal-to-mammal transmission, which could trigger a pandemic if it ever spread to humans.

The CDC offered several recommendations for clinicians, saying they should consider the possibility of infection in people showing signs or symptoms of acute respiratory illness or conjunctivitis, and who have relevant exposure history outlined in Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus in Animals: Interim Recommendations for Prevention, Monitoring, and Public Health Investigations.


Symptoms of bird flu include cough, sore throat, eye redness, fever, headache and fatigue. In moderate cases it can cause shortness of breath, altered mental states or seizures. Complications can range from pneumonia and respiratory failure to multiorgan failure and sepsis.

Overall, people should avoid being near a sick or dead animal, or surfaces contaminated with the animal’s feces, litter, raw milk or other byproducts when they are not wearing respiratory or eye protection, the CDC said. And as always, people should not prepare or eat uncooked or undercooked food or related uncooked food products, such as unpasteurized milk or raw cheeses.

Jeff Lagasse is editor of Healthcare Finance News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare Finance News is a HIMSS Media publication.


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