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US logs second human case of bird flu over contact with sick cow. 10 points

Avian influenza or bird flu usually occurs among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry. Cases of human infection caused by exposure to infected animals are rare and sporadic

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Avian influenza or bird flu is caused by an infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses.

Nisha Anand New Delhi

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A person in the US state of Texas has tested positive for bird flu after coming into contact with cattle, making it the second human case of the virus in the country. The development comes as the US has been battling with infected dairy cows for the last two weeks.

The US authorities have registered cases of the virus among cows in several US states, including Texas, Kansas and Michigan.

The latest patient has been isolated and is being treated with an antiviral drug. The person is infected with HPAI A(H5N1) viruses, which have a lower threat level, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said in its report.

What we know so far about bird flu infection in the US:

1) The CDC report said that the US officials in Texas and Kansas first recorded the viral outbreak among dairy cows on March 25. The first case of bird flu occurred in the US in Colorado in 2022.

Is bird flu an infectious disease?

2) Avian influenza or bird flu is caused by an “infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses,” the CDC explains. The virus usually affects wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. However, sporadic instances of rare human infections caused by animals have occurred in the past.

3) “…people with close or prolonged, unprotected exposures to infected birds or other animals (including livestock), or to environments contaminated by infected birds or other animals, are at greater risk of infection,” the CDC warned.

4) Its symptoms include mild ones such as eye infection, as seen in the case of the Texas patient, and upper respiratory illness and severe symptoms like pneumonia that can be fatal, according to the CDC.

How to prevent oneself from catching bird flu?

5) The health body recommends avoiding prolonged exposure to infected birds and livestock. It advises people to avoid eating uncooked or undercooked food, especially poultry-derived. These include unpasteurized (raw) milk or products made from raw milk, such as cheeses, which may have come from suspected infected animals.

What should you do in case of a suspected bird flu infection?

6) If any person has been in prolonged contact with suspected or confirmed infected animals or birds, they need to be monitored for any signs and symptoms of illness for ten days after the last known exposure.

7) If anyone develops flu symptoms, they must seek medical evaluation and antiviral treatment from officials. Symptomatic persons should isolate themselves from others until it is confirmed that their infection has been treated.

8) “Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn when in direct or close contact (within about six feet) with sick or dead animals including poultry, wild birds, backyard bird flocks, or other animals,” the CDC suggests

9) The recommended PPE includes an N95 filtering facepiece respirator, eye protection, and gloves. It is also highly recommended that hands be washed after contact with suspected infectious animals.

10) Bird flu can be treated with FDA-approved flu antiviral medications. People should not be of the view that seasonal flu vaccines are sufficient to protect oneself against these viruses.

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First Published: Apr 04 2024 | 10:20 AM IST

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