First Human Case of Bird Flu Found In Texas; Only Second Human Case In U.S. History

April 1, 2024
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On the positive side, it seems like this was a very mild case and it’s the only case that’s been identified so far. But at the same time, it seems like there’s quite a bit of this virus that has been detected in cattle populations.

Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the Center for Pandemic Decision Science at the University of Texas at Austin, on the case of bird flu detected in a person who interacted with cattle presumed infected by the avian flu.

Why It Matters: This is the first case of bird flu identified in a person in the state of Texas and only the second case identified in the United States; the previous case was identified in 2022.

Bird flu, otherwise known as “avian flu” (H5N1) is highly contagious amongst birds and deadly (either infecting and sickening the birds, or forcing poultry farmers to euthanize the birds). However, it has rarely surfaced in other animals and humans.

Health officials have only recently announced the presence of bird flu for the first time in dairy cattle in Texas, Michigan and Kansas and suspected cases in New Mexico, and Idaho. Over the last year, bird flu has also been found in goats, sea lions, seals, black bears and mountain lions.

“This infection does not change the H5N1 bird flu human health risk assessment for the U.S. general public, which CDC considers to be low.” (CDC)

A few more details:

The infected the person had mild symptoms (irritated eyes), “is told to isolate” and receiving an anti-viral; the person also had direct contact with cattle suspected of also having an infection.

Early pathology of the virus does not appear to show changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible in humans.

How did the cows get bird flu? Early findings suggest wild birds on property shared with dairy cattle.

How do you know a cow has bird flu? Lethargy, lower lactation, decreased appetite.

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) 

CDC

A person in Texas caught bird flu after exposure to cows that were thought to be ill

by Jenna Lee,

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