Food Safety

Bird Flu Case Detected in Texas - Public Health Officials Respond

Main image to the post Bird Flu Case Detected in Texas - Public Health Officials Respond

Recently, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported a case of a person in Texas testing positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which was first detected in dairy cattle in several states. It is suspected that the individual may have contracted the virus from the same source that infected the cows or possibly from infected dead waterfowl found on the property. Despite this case, officials like Commissioner Sid Miller and the CDC are emphasizing that the public should not be alarmed about the situation, as the general human health risk in the U.S. from the H5N1 bird flu strain is considered low.

Although the H5N1 strain of bird flu is rare in humans, it is known to be fatal in a significant percentage of cases. The recent H5N1 case in Texas is the second instance of this strain ever being detected in the U.S., with the first case occurring in Colorado in 2022. Authorities have also noted that the virus primarily spreads among birds but has been detected in nonbird species like polar bears, foxes, and marine mammals. Dr. Jeff Bender from the University of Minnesota highlighted the likelihood of more outbreaks in animals as birds migrate during the spring, potentially leading to further instances of the virus.

Public health recommendations include avoiding unpasteurized dairy products and ensuring that commercial milk and meat remain safe for consumption. The CDC and USDA reassured that the bird flu cases in cattle should not impact food safety or supply in the U.S., as measures like pasteurization and cooking can effectively eliminate the virus. There is ongoing monitoring to understand if the virus could mutate to become more transmissible, which could pose a greater risk to humans. Additionally, officials are prepared with a stockpile of vaccinations and antiviral drugs if needed to address any potential spread of the virus among humans.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09