US reports first human case of contagious bird flu in Colorado

top line

A man in Colorado has tested positive for an H5 bird flu virus, state officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday, marking the first recorded human infection in the U.S. by the highly contagious virus that is tearing apart commercial and wild herds. . birds, but which experts say pose little threat to humans.

Main facts

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) said the man is incarcerated at a state correctional facility and was exposed to infected birds while working on a commercial farm in Montrose County.

The man tested positive for an avian influenza A(H5) virus earlier this week and the CDC confirmed the result on Wednesday, the CDPHE said, although the repeat test was negative for the flu.

It is possible that the person was not actually infected with the virus, the CDPHE noted, suggesting that the virus may have been present in their nose due to close contact with infected birds, but it did not cause an infection.

The man – described as being under 40, “largely asymptomatic” and reporting only fatigue – is now isolating and taking the antiviral drug oseltamivir, also known as tamiflu, the CDPHE said.

No other human cases have been confirmed in Colorado or the US, the CDPHE said.

crucial quote

“We want to assure coloradans that the risk to them is low,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, a state epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

Surprising Fact

It is only the second human infection caused by this particular version of the H5N1 bird flu to be recorded worldwide, the first being an elderly British man who lived with several ducks inside his home in December.

key background

H5N1 flu is a type of flu virus that mainly infects birds, although it can infect humans. It can be lethal and highly contagious and is devastating to wild and commercial bird populations. Outbreaks in Europe and the US mean that millions of birds have already been culled to stop the spread and health officials have warned people to avoid contact with birds that appear sick or dead. Many bird owners, such as zoos, have chosen to relocate them inside to reduce the risk of wild bird exposure.

big number

33 million. That’s the number of poultry that the latest outbreak of avian flu in the US affected, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. It was confirmed in 29 states, the agency said.

additional reading

Costco’s Roast Chicken Supply Threatened by Bird Flu (Forbes)

North American zoos are moving birds indoors to protect them from bird flu (NPR)

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