Advisory On Avian Flu

April 9, 2024

This is an advisory regarding preventing the spread of the Avian Flu.  On April 1, 2024,Texas reported a human infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A (H5N1 bird flu) after confirmation by the CDC.

The person in Texas with H5N1 bird flu who had exposure to presumably infected cows reported eye redness, or conjunctivitis, as their only symptom and is recovering. The patient was told to stay at home, away from others, and was treated with a flu antiviral drug. Human infections with H5N1 bird flu are rare. Still, they do happen, most often after unprotected exposure to infected birds, when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, or is inhaled, or when a person touches something that has the virus on it and then touches their mouth, eyes, or nose.

The case in Texas would be the first known instance of a person getting bird flu from a cow. It’s not clear at this time exactly how the person in Texas became infected. Bird flu illnesses in people have ranged from mild (e.g., eye infection, upper respiratory symptoms) to severe (e.g., pneumonia, multi-organ failure, death). There is no sign of person-to-person spread of this virus at this time. This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation that CDC is following closely. At this time, CDC believes that this virus’s overall risk to the general public remains low.

Prevention Recommendations:

  • People should avoid sick or dead animals, including wild/domestic birds, poultry, including cows.
  • People should avoid animal poop, animal droppings, raw milk, or materials that have been touched by, or close to, birds or other animals.  Wear a mask while working with animals.
  • People should not prepare or consume uncooked or undercooked food or related uncooked food products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, or raw cheeses,
  • It is safe to drink commercial milk because products are pasteurized before entering the market.
  • It is safe to eat properly handled and cooked poultry in the United States. Properly handling and cooking poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F kills bacteria and viruses
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is available as needed ; request it through the IHS National Supply Service Center.    

For Clinicians:

·      Clinicians continue to surveil for influenza-like illnesses.

·      Consider the possibility of HPAI A(H5N1) virus infection in persons showing signs or symptoms of acute respiratory illness who have a relevant exposure history with potentially sick birds or livestock.

·      Contact your respective state public health department to arrange testing for influenza A(H5N1) virus,

  • Collect recommended respiratory specimens using PPE
  • Consider starting empiric antiviral treatment for persons with suspected avian influenza
  • Encourage the patient to stay at home and away from household members and not go to work or school until they do not have an avian influenza A virus infection.