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Here’s what you need to know about the uncommon human case of bird flu detected in Texas

Texas authorities have recently reported a case of avian flu in an individual who had contact with dairy cattle, marking only the second human case ever recorded in the United States.

The dairy cattle in question were suspected of having avian flu, but the Texas Department of State Health Services reassured that there is no concern for the commercial milk supply. Other instances of bird flu in dairy cows have been identified in Kansas, Michigan, and New Mexico. However, any milk from an affected cow must either be destroyed or diverted, and the process of pasteurization effectively eliminates avian flu viruses, the department emphasized.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the human case, noting that it does not alter its assessment of the “low” risk of bird flu to human health for the general population. The sole previous case of bird flu in a person occurred in Colorado in 2022, involving direct exposure to poultry.

Given the constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses, the CDC stressed the importance of ongoing surveillance and preparedness efforts. While the current situation remains under scrutiny, the CDC assured that it would provide updates as new relevant information emerges.

The individual in Texas tested positive for avian flu following testing by the CDC, with the only symptom reported being eye inflammation. The patient is receiving treatment with antiviral medication and is currently in recovery, having been advised to isolate. The CDC highlighted that individuals with close or prolonged, unprotected exposure to infected birds or animals are at higher risk of infection.

The CDC is collaborating with state health departments to monitor individuals who may have had contact with infected birds or animals and to test those showing symptoms. Bird flu primarily affects wild birds but can occasionally infect humans, albeit rarely transmitting from person to person.

Symptoms of avian flu in humans can vary from mild to severe and may include eye redness, fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. Less common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or seizures.

To minimize the risk of avian flu transmission, the CDC advises avoiding unprotected contact with sick or dead animals suspected of having bird flu and recommends monitoring for symptoms following exposure. It’s important to note that seasonal flu vaccines do not offer protection against bird flu. Initial testing indicates that the virus in question has not exhibited increased transmissibility among humans.

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