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1st human case of H5 bird flu in US reported in Colo.; risk to public remains low

Officials say the first human case of H5 bird flu in the U.S. has been detected in Colorado.
Officials say the first human case of H5 bird flu in the U.S. has been detected in Colorado.(MGN)
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 10:30 PM EDT
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MONTROSE COUNTY, Colo. (Gray News) - The first human case associated with the H5 bird flu in the United States has been detected in a Colorado man.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news release Thursday the man had direct exposure to poultry. The Colorado Department of Public Health said the man is an inmate in a state correctional facility. He was working at a commercial poultry farm as part of a pre-release employment program.

The 40-year-old man reported fatigue for a few days as his only symptom and has since recovered. He is being isolated and treated with an antiviral drug. It’s not yet clear if he contracted the H5N1 avian influenza from his direct contact with the poultry or as a result of surface contamination.

The affected flock has been euthanized and disposed of under health department and CDC guidelines.

The CDC stressed the “public health risk assessment remains low,” adding that people who have job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds are at a higher risk of infection and should take appropriate precautions.

So far, the CDC reports that H5N1 viruses have been found in commercial and backyard birds in 29 states and wild birds in 34 states. They have been tracking the health of more than 2,500 people exposed to infected birds and have so far found only this one case.

The only other human case reported thus far was in December 2021 in the United Kingdom. The patient had no symptoms and was raising birds who became infected with the H5N1 virus.

More than 880 people have been infected with earlier versions of the H5N1 virus since 2003. Health officials say any human infection of an H5 virus is rare.

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