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Texas Reports Lone Human Case of H5N1 Bird Flu from Dairy Cow Outbreak

Lone Human case of H5N1 Avian Flu from Texas Dairy Cows

United States: The lone human case of H5N1 avian flu linked to the continuing outbreak in dairy cows is being described by medical professionals in Texas.

Rare Human Case:

Although human instances of bird flu are still incredibly rare, of the hundreds of cases that have been reported globally over the past several years, over half of them have been deadly, raising fears among scientists about the prospect that a human bird virus that is readily spread may eventually appear.

The anonymous dairy farm worker from Texas seems to have struck it lucky; his H5N1 illness turned out to be little more than a case of conjunctivitis, an inflammatory “pinkeye” that cleared up with antibiotic therapy.

In a paper published May 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team led by Dr. Scott Milton of the Texas Department of State Health Services and Dr. Timothy Uyeki of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Atlanta reported the case.

“In late March 2024, an adult dairy farm worker had onset of redness and discomfort in the right eye,” they stated.

After examining him, they determined that the guy had what seemed to be a typical case of conjunctivitis, complete with sore eyes and bloodshot eyes that did not affect his eyesight.

Mild Symptoms

His “vital signs were unremarkable,” the doctors wrote, with clean lungs, no respiratory symptoms, and a normal blood-oxygen level other from that.

nevertheless, “the worker reported no contact with sick or dead wild birds, poultry, or other animals but reported direct and close exposure to dairy cows that appeared to be well and with sick cows that showed the same signs of illness as cows at other dairy farms in the same area of northern Texas with confirmed HPAI A(H5N1) virus infection,” according to the researchers. “The worker reported wearing gloves when working with cows but did not use any respiratory or eye protection.”

His eyes and nasal passages were swabbed, and the results showed that he had the flu. Subsequent examination reduced that diagnosis to H5N1.

The man’s condition did not deteriorate, but he was instructed to isolate himself at home and was prescribed oseltamivir, a common antiviral medicine, twice a day for five days. The antiviral was also administered to residents of his house to shield them from H5N1.

Medical Report

“Over the subsequent days, the worker reported resolution of conjunctivitis without respiratory symptoms, and household contacts remained well,” the team stated.

A crucial viral mutation known as PB2 E627K is found in the strain linked to the man’s illness after careful laboratory examination. This mutation “has been found previously in humans and other mammals infected with the virus and has been linked to the virus’ adaptation to mammalian hosts.”

Treatment and Recovery

Furthermore, they stated that there was no indication of any alterations in the man’s H5N1 strain that would have decreased its susceptibility to normal antiviral therapy, which is advised against influenza.

Additionally, there was positive news for researchers working on avian influenza vaccinations, should they be required: The H5N1 strain that infected the dairy worker included some vaccine-sensitive components that are “closely related” to viruses that are already under investigation by experts working on avian flu vaccines.

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