May 22, 2024 - Health

Second U.S. case of bird flu found in Michigan farmworker

A cow looks at the camera.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A second case of bird flu in a human was detected in a worker at a Michigan dairy farm where the virus had been identified in cows, federal officials said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Officials say the risk to the public remains low, but the new case underscores the importance of precautions among those who work closely with potentially infected animals amid a multistate outbreak in dairy cows.

  • "There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission," Nirav Shah, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters. "Our view is that this situation is something that was predicted and we should be taking steps to prevent."

Driving the news: Michigan's health department identified the case by sending daily text messages to dairy workers asking if they were experiencing any symptoms, federal officials said.

  • Similar to the Texas dairy farm worker who was the first human case earlier this spring, the Michigan worker's only symptom was an eye infection.
  • CDC laboratory testing confirmed Tuesday it was a case of bird flu, and officials are conducting additional laboratory analysis on the sample.
  • Health officials are also contact tracing and are offering the worker's close contacts doses of Tamiflu as a precaution.

Forty people on dairy farms have been tested since the outbreak was first detected in cows in March, officials said.

  • But scientists fear the U.S. may be missing cases due to low testing, per NPR.

State of play: The U.S. Department of Agriculture also said it is offering financial support to help farms reduce the spread between herds and cover the costs of testing equipment, veterinary services associated with testing and test shipping.

  • The USDA is also preparing to make payments on a per-cow basis for milk production lost from sickened herds.
  • Protective gear, including goggles, N-95 respirators and gloves, are also being made available through the Strategic National Stockpile, officials said.
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