Bird flu confirmed in third farmworker: CDC

Health Cows 031109 AP Charlie Litchfield

A second human case of bird flu has been identified in the state of Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, marking the third farmworker diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. since March. 

None of the three cases are associated with the others, CDC said. As with the previous two cases, the person is a dairy farm worker with exposure to infected cows. 

Unlike with the other two cases, this farmworker had respiratory symptoms including cough without fever, and eye discomfort with watery discharge. In the other cases, the patients’ only sign of illness was pinkeye. 

This case does not change CDC’s bird flu human health risk assessment for the U.S. general public, which remains low, officials said, because all three cases had direct contact with infected cows. 

The patient was given Tamiflu, is isolating at home, and their symptoms are resolving. Household contacts of the patient have not developed symptoms, are being monitored for illness, and have been offered Tamiflu, CDC said. 

“Given the extent of the spread of this virus in dairy cows, additional human cases in people with higher risk exposures would not be surprising,” the agency said.  

CDC said its priority right now is to prevent additional cases of bird flu infections in dairy herd workers, who are at higher risk of exposure. 

“CDC has been analyzing data from influenza surveillance systems closely, particularly in affected states, and there has been no sign of unusual influenza activity in people, including in emergency room and laboratory data detection,” the agency said in a statement. 

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