second human case of avian flu linked to outbreak in cows

second human case of avian flu linked to outbreak in cows
second human case of avian flu linked to outbreak in cows

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A cow on a Texas hillside.
Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

This person works on a farm where the H5N1 virus infected dairy cows, in the state of Michigan (North), said the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). For this federal public health agency, however, the assessment of the risk for the American population remains “weak”.

A first case in Texas, in the south of the United States, was announced on 1er april. It was then “probably” of the world’s first case of avian influenza infection via a cow, according to the CDC.

A first human case of avian flu was discovered in the country in 2022, in Colorado (West), but it was then an infection by poultry. For the person infected in Michigan as in Texas, the patients only showed symptoms in the eyes, specifies the CDC. Both have recovered.

Experts are concerned about the growing number of mammals infected with the disease, although cases in humans remain rare. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission at this time, but scientists fear that high circulation could facilitate a mutation of the virus that would allow it to pass from one human to another.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had announced its “huge worry” mid-April in the face of the increasing spread of avian flu to new species. Goats, for example, have joined the list.

Additional possible cases

Cattle herds in at least nine US states are affected by this outbreak. The first report dates from March 25.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has identified transmission of the virus between cows within the same herd, or between dairies during animal movements. The cows are recovering and the disease is only associated with “little or no mortality”, according to a press release from the ministry at the end of April.

It is important to emphasize that so far we have not found any modification of the virus that would make it more contagious to humans or between people.”, added this press release. Financial aid has been put in place by the USDA to help affected farms, for example to provide protective equipment to their employees.

The CDC on Wednesday again emphasized the importance of precautionary measures for people exposed to sick or potentially infected animals. These people must in particular avoid contact “close together, prolonged and without protection” with these animals, as well as with their excrement, or even with unpasteurized raw milk.

Given the high levels of H5N1 virus in raw milk from infected cows, as well as the extent of spread of this virus among dairy cows, additional similar cases in humans may be identified.”the CDC said.

But “sporadic infections in humans – without continued spread – will not change the risk assessment for the general public“, they added.

At the end of April, the United States Medicines Agency (FDA) confirmed that milk sold in stores in the United States was “on”, the pasteurization process being “effective” to kill the bird flu virus.

AFP/VNA/CVN

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