Texas Health Officials, CDC Confirm Bird Flu In Dairy Worker

(Photo by GENEVIEVE NORMAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Mariane Angela Contributor
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A Texas resident has been diagnosed with a potent form of bird flu, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Monday.

A man has tested positive for a highly virulent strain of bird flu, the first human case following its detection in dairy cattle across several states. The person worked at a dairy farm where cows were found infected with the H5N1 strain, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“The patient became ill following contact with dairy cows presumed to be infected with avian influenza. The patient’s primary symptom was conjunctivitis,” the department said in a statement. “This is the second case of avian influenza A(H5N1) identified in a person in the United States and is believed to be associated with the recent detections of avian influenza A(H5N1) in dairy cows.”

The case has sparked questions about how the virus spreads. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said it’s not yet clear if the person caught the virus directly from infected cows or from another source, NBC News reported. Despite the incident’s severity, officials, including Miller and the CDC, reassured that the public is at low risk. However, CDC pointed out the necessity of avoiding unprotected contact with sick or dead birds to prevent any risk.

“To reduce the risk of HPAI A(H5N1) virus infection, poultry farmers and poultry workers, backyard bird flock owners, livestock farmers and workers, veterinarians and veterinary staff, and responders should avoid unprotected direct physical contact or close exposure with sick or dead birds or other animals, carcasses, feces, milk, or litter from sick birds or other animals potentially infected or confirmed to be infected with HPAI A(H5N1) virus,” the CDC states(RELATED: As If 2023 Couldn’t Get Any Weirder, Turns Out Your Favorite Bird Of Paradise Might End Humanity)

While this kind of bird flu is rare, it is deadly. A 21-year-old man in Vietnam died of bird flu March 23, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health reportedly said.