About 10 days ago, after a second human case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu was announced, the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) reworked its markup on the issue, not the message.

Since it first struck a commercial poultry flock on U.S. soil in early 2022. avian flu has been a harsh master, affecting 85.8 million birds in 48 states.

The USDA claims to have the world’s most robust avian influenza surveillance program. The flu has also taken 9,253 wild birds in 50 jurisdictions.

Recently, the CDC has been using color cartoons to spread its message that “Infected poultry can spread bird flu to people. Human infections with bird flu viruses are rare but possible.”

The CDC’s “protective actions for people” include these suggestions:

+ Avoid direct contact with wild birds, observing them only from a distance.

+ Do not make any contact with any dead birds and report any sick or dead birds.

Take protective actions around other animals thought to have HSN1 bird flu.

+ Food is safe to eat as long as it is properly handled and cooked.

+ CDC has not imposed any travel restrictions resulting from the avian flu crisis

+ Seasonal flu vaccines will reduce the risk of illness from avian flu.

+ The two human avian flu cases were many months apart, a Colorado poultry worker and a Texas dairy farm employee.  Both recovered.

+ Local health officials are being advised to look out for additional cases.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial flock in the United States on Feb. 8, 2022. 

Since then, APHIS has worked to identify and respond to detections and mitigate the virus’ impact on U.S. poultry production and trade. 

Detections are higher in the fall and spring because wild birds continue to spread the virus as they migrate to their seasonal homes. APHIS continues to work closely with the States.

To provide context on the overall size of the U.S. poultry flock, there are more than 368.2 million egg-laying chickens in the United States. In 2022, more than 9.5 billion broiler chickens and 208 million turkeys were processed in the United States, according to USDA data.

In meetings, CDC told state officials to ensure that their bird flu operational plans are up-to-date.

The latest human case of U.S. avian flu cases with these facts:

  • A person in Texas tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus (“H5N1 bird flu”). This is only the second case of H5N1 bird flu in the United States; the first was in a poultry worker in Colorado in 2022.
  • This person in Texas worked with dairy cows presumably infected with H5N1 bird flu viruses.
  • This is the first time this virus has been found in cows and would be the first instance of cow-to-human spread of bird flu. Infected dairy herds have been found in eight states since the first confirmation in Texas.
  • CDC has sequenced the influenza virus genome from a patient in Texas and compared this with other sequenced H5N1 viruses. The virus obtained from this person is nearly identical to what has been found in cows and birds in Texas. There are no changes associated with resistance to antiviral medications, and the virus is closely related to two existing candidate vaccine viruses.
  • There is no sign of person-to-person spread of this virus at this time.
  • This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation that CDC is following closely. The CDC believes this virus’s overall risk to the general public remains low.

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