‘Be prepared’: CDC convenes bird flu outbreak meeting where it tells state health officials to get ready for more human cases

Photo of author
Written By Rivera Claudia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

State health officials have been told to prepare for more human cases of bird flu, amid fears the virus could jump to people.

CDC officials issued the warning on Friday, urging state leaders to have ‘up-to-date operational plans’ in place in case more farm workers test positive for H5N1.

At the meeting, they also emphasized that the risk to the public was still low — but said health officials should be prepared for the potential of more cases. 

Only one infection has been reported in a person in Texas so far, but officials fear more humans in close contact with infected cattle may also have H5N1.

Cattle on 16 farms across seven states — mostly in Texas — have tested positive for the virus, with doctors now urged to test any farm worker for the disease who they suspect may have been infected.

The above shows how bird flu is edging closer to human spillover in the US

The above shows how bird flu is edging closer to human spillover in the US

The meeting was led by the CDC’s deputy director Nirav Shah and Dr Demetre Daskalakis, who was involved in the national response to the outbreak of monkeypox — or mpox — in 2022.

It was attended by local health leaders including representatives from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, which has members across all 50 states and Washington D.C.

A release from the CDC on the meeting, which took place online, read: ‘CDC recommended that state public health officials… ensure that they have up-to-date operational plans to respond to avian influenza at the state level.

‘For example, the CDC emphasized the importance of having plans in place to quickly test and provide treatment to potentially impacted farm workers following positive results among cattle herds.’

The release added that officials ’emphasized that, although the risk to the public remains low, the agency wants state public health officials to be prepared to respond’.

The one person infected with the virus has only one symptom — inflammation of the eye — and has been reported to be isolated and ‘recovering well’.

The above map shows states where infections in cattle have been detected

The above map shows states where infections in cattle have been detected

They are also being treated with the drug oseltamivir, or Tamiflu, and are not thought to have passed the virus on to anyone else.

Texas has reported the most cattle infections, with eight dairy herds testing positive for the virus.

Herds in Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan and Idaho have also been found to be infected with the virus.

Scientists fear that infections in mammals raise the risk of the virus gaining mutations making it better able to infect humans.

They also say the risk of a human infection is raised if the virus spreads to animals with close contact with humans, such as cattle, cats and dogs.

It comes after the CDC said it was taking bird flu ‘very seriously’, with the agency’s director Dr Mandy Cohen adding they were ‘monitoring the situation very closely’.

‘Any case of H5N1 is concerning,’ she said, ‘because it is highly dangerous to humans, although it has never been shown to be easily transmissible between people.’

H5N1 is already said to be causing a pandemic in the animal kingdom and to have caused infections in more than 40 mammal species, including foxes, raccoons, skunks — and even polar bears.

Every infection raises the risk of it gaining a mutation that makes the virus better able to infect humans, they said.

There are also concerns over the price of milk and eggs. 

Officials say there is little risk of catching the virus from milk because almost all is pasteurized, which deactivates viruses and bacteria. Cattle infected with the virus also have their milk withdrawn from the supply.

But there are concerns that if too many cows are infected and too much milk is withdrawn this could start to drive up the price of milk.

Last week, the US’ biggest egg producer — Cal-Maine Foods in Texas — revealed it had to cull 2million birds after detecting the virus in its flock.

Culling over bird flu was behind the surge in egg prices in 2022, when the cost of a dozen large, Grade A, eggs rose from $1.72 to $3.59 in the year to November 2022 before peaking at $4.82 in January the following year.

SOURCE

Leave a Comment

ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT