First case of cow-to-human transmission of avian influenza with respiratory symptoms

U.S. health authorities announced Thursday evening the world’s first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, transmitted from cows to humans with respiratory symptoms. This is the second human case of avian flu in Michigan and the third infection reported this year in the country. The two previous patients had only conjunctivitis and no respiratory problems.

The case was identified in a dairy farm worker in Michigan who was regularly exposed to cattle infected with avian influenza, the government-affiliated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The patient works on a different dairy farm than the first worker confirmed in the state on May 22 and was working without protective equipment. The CDC cautioned that none of the three cases are related.

In late March, it was announced that dairy cows in Texas and Kansas were infected with avian influenza, and a few days later, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials confirmed cases of infection in a herd of dairy cows in Michigan. in contact with specimens from Texas.

Three infected people work on dairy farms. The patient reported last Thursday is the first to “report symptoms more typical of acute respiratory illness associated with influenza,” federal officials said.

Alarming Dimension

The announcement of the recent infection of dairy cows in the United States adds an alarming aspect to an outbreak that has affected millions of birds and marine mammals around the world. Last Tuesday, the USDA confirmed the discovery of H5N1 infection in several alpacas at a farm that had infected poultry in Idaho.

Last week, the CDC said the currently circulating H5N1 virus does not spread easily between people, but “it is possible that it could change” and could infect people.

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