CDC Reports Low Flu Levels Amid Bird Flu Outbreak in Dairy Cows

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports on a bird flu (H5N1) outbreak in dairy cows across nine US states, with wastewater sampling sites in five states detecting higher-than-average levels of influenza A virus, raising concerns about potential human transmission and highlighting the need for continued monitoring and collaboration between public health and animal health officials." This description focuses on the primary topic of the bird flu outbreak, the main entities involved (CDC, dairy cows, and public health officials), the context of the US states affected, and the significant actions and implications of the outbreak. The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the type of flu virus, the affected states, and the entities involved in monitoring and response efforts.

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Nimrah Khatoon
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CDC Reports Low Flu Levels Amid Bird Flu Outbreak in Dairy Cows

CDC Reports Low Flu Levels Amid Bird Flu Outbreak in Dairy Cows

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Tuesday that national influenza levels remain low, but wastewater sampling sites in Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, and Kansas have detected higher-than-average levels of influenza A virus. This comes amid an outbreak of bird flu (H5N1) in dairy cows across nine states.

As of May 4, 189 wastewater sampling sites showed higher-than-average levels of influenza A virus in a handful of sites across the country. One site in Saline County, Kansas, showed notably high levels of flu virus for this time of year. Four herds in Kansas tested positive for bird flu in April. It is unclear whether the Kansas wastewater samples were limited to human waste or included runoff water from farms.

Why this matters: The detection of bird flu in dairy cows and its transmission to humans raises concerns about the potential for a larger outbreak, highlighting the need for continued monitoring and collaboration between public health and animal health officials. This incident also underscores the importance of a One Health approach, which recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health.

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease expert and associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, said the new CDC data is "actually pretty reassuring" and that he isn't seeing any uptick in flu-like illnesses in his medical practice. The CDC also reports there has been no unusual uptick in flu-like illnesses in recent weeks.

As of Tuesday, 42 herds in nine states (Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas) had been affected by the bird flu outbreak. The CDC is monitoring 260 people who have been exposed to infected dairy cows for flu-like symptoms. Thirty-three people have been tested for the virus, and only one person, a dairy farm worker in Texas, has been diagnosed with bird flu connected to the dairy cow outbreak. He developed a severe case of conjunctivitis (pinkeye) and has recovered.

The first human case of influenza A(H5N1) virus infection in the United States was reported on April 1, 2024, in Texas. Despite monitoring over 260 people exposed to infected or potentially infected animals, no additional human cases have been detected. The CDC is working in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state public health and animal health officials, and other partners using a One Health approach to respond to the outbreak.

The detection of HPAI A(H5N1) in a human is significant because it marks a rare instance of the virus jumping from birds to mammals and then to humans. "It's a huge thing that the virus has jumped from birds to mammals, dairy cows in this case, and then to humans. That's why this paper in the New England Journal of Medicine is very significant. It's going to lay the foundation, I believe, for a lot of research in the future of how the virus is evolving," said Steve Presley, Director of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) and BTRL at Texas Tech University. The CDC and other public health partners are closely monitoring the situation due to the potential risks of the virus spreading further.

Key Takeaways

  • CDC reports low national influenza levels, but detects higher-than-average flu A virus in 5 states.
  • Bird flu (H5N1) outbreak affects 9 states, with 42 herds infected and 1 human case in Texas.
  • One Health approach crucial in monitoring and responding to outbreak, given potential for human transmission.
  • 260 people exposed to infected dairy cows being monitored, with no additional human cases detected.
  • CDC and partners closely monitoring situation due to potential risks of virus spreading further.