Apr 1, 2024 - Health

Person in Texas contracted bird flu after exposure to infected cows

Dairy cows at a Pennsylvania farm in May 2020. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

A person in Texas is being treated for bird flu after exposure to dairy cattle presumed to be infected with the virus, health officials said Monday.

The big picture: The case comes as the highly contagious and often deadly virus has been spreading globally among mammals in recent years.

  • While human infection is possible, it is uncommon.
  • Health officials have said the infection doesn't affect its current health risk assessment for the public, which is considered low.
  • Federal authorities have also said there is "no concern" about the safety of the U.S. milk supply.

Zoom in: The person with bird flu in Texas was exposed to dairy cattle presumed to be infected with the H5N1 virus, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • The patient, who reported eye redness as the only symptom, is being treated with an antiviral drug for flu and is recovering, the CDC said.

Other bird flu cases in cattle have been reported in Kansas and Michigan, the Food and Drug Administration said last week.

Yes, but: People with close or prolonged, unprotected exposures to infected birds or other animals or to contaminated environments face greater risk of infection.

  • The CDC recommends people avoid unprotected exposure to sick or dead animals, animal carcasses, raw milk, feces, litter or materials contaminated by birds or other animals with confirmed or suspected infection.
  • People should not prepare or eat uncooked or undercooked food products such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, the agency said.

Go deeper: Bird flu is spreading to cows

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