COLORADO (ABC4) – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported the first U.S. case of Human Avian Influenza, otherwise known as the bird flu.
The case was reported by Colorado and confirmed by the CDC on Thursday. CDC officials say the infected person had direct exposure to poultry and was involved in the “culling (depopulating) of poultry with presumptive H5N1 bird flu.”
According to the CDC, the person reported feeling fatigued for a few days and this was their only symptom. The person has since recovered.
Currently, the person is being isolated and treated with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir.
Despite the case showing up in the U.S., the CDC still considers the human risk assessment to be low for infection. They warn that those who have job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds are at higher risk of infection and should take appropriate precautions outlined in CDC guidance.
The CDC has been monitoring for illness among people exposed to H5N1 virus-infected birds since these outbreaks were detected in U.S. wild birds and poultry in late 2021 and into 2022.
To date, H5N1 viruses have been found in U.S. commercial and backyard birds in 29 states and in wild birds in 34 states. CDC has tracked the health of more than 2,500 people with exposures to H5N1 virus-infected birds and this is the only case that has been found to date.
The first case of H5N1 occurred in December 2021 in the United Kingdom in a person who did not have any symptoms and who raised birds that became infected with the H5N1 virus.
More than 880 human infections with earlier H5N1 viruses have been reported since 2003 worldwide, however, the CDC said the predominant H5N1 viruses now circulating among birds globally are different from earlier H5N1 viruses.
On April 18, agricultural officials announced that a case of the bird flu had been discovered in Utah in a small flock of backyard birds in Utah County on April 15.
According to the CDC, infected birds shed H5N1 viruses in their saliva, mucous and feces.
H5N1 viruses among people are rare, but human infections can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, or is inhaled. People with close or lengthy unprotected contact (not wearing respiratory or eye protection) with infected birds or places that sick birds or their mucous, saliva, or feces have touched, may be at greater risk of H5N1 virus infection.
The CDC says they will continue to watch this situation closely for signs that the risk to human health has changed.
People should avoid contact with poultry that appear ill or are dead and avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from wild or domestic birds, if possible.