An inmate in Colorado became the first human in the US to test positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu, amid the virus’s worst outbreak in seven years and the culling of dozens of millions of poultry. Of states.
The unnamed prisoner contracted the infection during a work release assignment at a farm in Montrose County where workers were slaughtering an infected herd, the Colorado department of public health and environment said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the health risk to the general public remains low.
“The patient reported fatigue for a few days as his only symptom and has since recovered,” the agency said, adding that the man, who was under 40, was treated with the antiviral drug oseltamivir.
The Colorado case “does not change the human health risk assessment,” the CDC said.
“[The agency] has tracked the health of more than 2,500 people exposed to birds infected with the H5N1 virus and this is the only case found to date. Other individuals involved in the slaughter operation in Colorado have tested negative for H5 virus infection, but are being retested out of an abundance of caution.”
The only other known human case of the currently predominant bird flu strain was in the United Kingdom in December last year, the CDC noted, although nearly 900 cases of earlier H5N1 viruses have been reported worldwide since 2003.
The US Department of Agriculture has been tracking the spread of bird flu in 30 states and affecting more than 35 million birds, according to its latest figures.
The Guardian reported Thursday that more than 22 million birds have died in an attempt to contain the outbreak, most of them in Iowa, the largest producer of eggs in the United States. That figure did not include a commercial egg farm in Knox, Nebraska, where 2.1 million affected birds were reported Wednesday.
At an egg factory in Rembrandt, Iowa, some 250 employees were laid off after roasting 5.3 million chickens alive, the largest slaughter at any factory farm in the country, in circumstances that some laid-off workers and rights groups the animals say they were inhumane.
The Storm Lake Times revealed that the birds at Rembrandt were euthanized using a system known as ventilation lock plus (VSD+) in which air is locked into the stalls and heat is pumped in until the temperature rises above 104F (40C). ).
“They cooked those birds alive,” said one of the workers involved.
Earlier this week, an H3N8 strain of bird flu was detected in humans for the first time in China’s Henan province.
The infected four-year-old boy had been in contact with chickens and crows raised at his home, according to reports from China’s National Health Commission.
Avian influenza, or bird flu, is a highly contagious viral disease. The first reports of human cases occurred in the 1990s.
Some strains have been transmitted to humans, but this is currently very rare and usually occurs only after very close contact with infected birds or animals.