A case of highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infection has been reported in an individual in the United States

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In the United States, an individual has been diagnosed with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus, commonly known as “H5N1 bird flu,” as per Texas authorities and confirmed by the CDC. This person had contact with dairy cattle in Texas suspected of carrying HPAI A(H5N1) viruses. The patient’s sole symptom, eye redness (typical of conjunctivitis), is improving, and they are undergoing treatment with an antiviral medication while in isolation. Despite this case, the CDC maintains that the overall risk of H5N1 bird flu for the general public in the U.S. remains low, except for those with direct and prolonged exposure to infected birds or animals.

The CDC is collaborating with state health departments to monitor individuals potentially exposed to infected animals and is providing guidelines for clinicians on monitoring and treating suspected avian influenza A virus infections. This recent case marks the second instance of an individual testing positive for influenza A(H5N1) viruses in the U.S., with a previous case in 2022.

HPAI A(H5N1) viruses are primarily found in wild birds but have also affected commercial poultry and occasionally mammals. Cases of H5N1 bird flu in humans have varied from mild to severe illness. The recent detection of HPAI in dairy cows highlights the need for ongoing surveillance and biosecurity measures in livestock. The CDC emphasizes the importance of preventive measures, including avoiding contact with infected animals and their products, along with monitoring exposed individuals for symptoms.

Regarding food safety, commercial milk undergoes pasteurization, ensuring its safety, while raw milk from affected animals is prevented from entering the human food supply. Continued vigilance and preparedness efforts are crucial given the evolving nature of influenza viruses, and the CDC will provide updates as the situation unfolds.