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First human case of avian flu reported in Texas

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Human case of avian flu in Texas (PHOTO: Shutterstock)
  • The first human case of avian flu was reported in Texas.
  • The person had contact with dairy cattle.
  • What do authorities say?

On April 1, 2024, the medical community and public health authorities in the United States faced an unprecedented situation.

The first human case of avian flu, A(H5N1), was reported in Texas.

This alarming event, reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), marks a new chapter in the battle against bird flu.

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The first human case of avian flu in Texas

health, news, united states, infectious diseases
PHOTO: Shutterstock

The patient, an adult over 18 years old, began showing symptoms on March 27, including the onset of conjunctivitis.

These symptoms manifested after having been in contact with dairy cattle presumed to be infected with the A(H5N1) influenza virus.

This situation raises serious concerns about the possible transmission of the virus from animals to humans —  this being the first documented case of this kind in the country.

Laboratory tests conducted at Texas Tech University confirmed the presence of the A(H5N1) virus in respiratory and conjunctival samples from the patient.

How was the patient treated?

health, infectious diseases, news, united states
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Although no mutations facilitating transmission between humans have been identified so far, the severity of this incident cannot be underestimated.

Antiviral treatment with oseltamivir was administered to the patient following diagnosis, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fortunately, the patient has not experienced any severe additional symptoms.

According to the WHO report, they are recovering. However, the risk of virus spread remains an imminent concern.

What is most alarming about this case?

human case of avian flu, A(H5N1), bird flu, influenza, health
PHOTO Shuterstock

One of the most alarming issues is that this case appears to be the first of human infection acquired through direct contact with dairy cattle infected with the A(H5N1) virus.

Previously, cases of avian flu in humans have been mainly associated with exposure to contaminated birds.

This new transmission route poses additional challenges for disease control and prevention.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has been closely monitoring the situation.

Monitoring the situation

human case of avian flu, A(H5N1), bird flu, influenza, health
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Since January 2022, the HPAI A(H5N1) virus has been reported among wild birds in 50 states or territories, as well as sporadic outbreaks among poultry and backyard flocks.

Additionally, cases have been detected in mammals and outdoor cats at dairy facilities.

The USDA has confirmed additional detections of the virus in dairy cattle across several states, including Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Idaho, New Mexico and Ohio. To date, the virus has been detected at 15 farms across six states.

Continued monitoring and analysis of samples collected from other farms where cattle show signs of illness are crucial for containing the spread of the virus.

Does this human case of avian flu mean the public is at risk?

human case of avian flu, A(H5N1), bird flu, influenza, health
PHOTO: Shutterstock

It is essential to highlight that, despite the severity of this situation, the risk to the general population is considered low at this time.

The WHO states that the public health risk as low, and for occupationally exposed individuals, the risk of infection is considered low to moderate.

The situation demands an urgent and coordinated response at both national and international levels to contain the spread of the virus and protect public health.

All citizens must remain vigilant and follow the recommendations of health authorities to minimize the risk of exposure. Cooperation and swift action are crucial in combating this unprecedented public health emergency.

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