New Human Case of Bird Flu Reported in the US

An employee at a dairy farm in northeast Colorado has tested positive for H5 avian influenza.

This is already the fourth human case of bird flu in the United States since March 2024, and it is associated with the multistate outbreak in dairy cattle. As in previous cases, a dairy farm employee became infected following direct exposure to infected dairy cattle.

The adult male experienced mild symptoms, reporting only conjunctivitis (pink eye). He was treated with antiviral oseltamivir and has since recovered, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reports.


Health officials say the bird flu risk to most people remains low, as the avian flu viruses are not adapted to spread from person to person.

“Right now, the most important thing to know is that people who have regular exposure to infected animals are at increased risk of infection and should take precautions when they have contact with sick animals,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, a state epidemiologist at CDPHE.

Thus far, human cases of bird flu have been mild, with patients reporting fatigue, conjunctivitis, and flu-like symptoms. However, the World Health Organization’s data suggests a bird flu mortality rate of over 50%.

As the number of human cases increases, some experts urge for better outbreak management.

Rick Bright, a virologist and former official at Health and Human Services (HHS), says the fourth huma case is completely expected by weak efforts to track and stop the outbreak, which he calls “completely preventable.”

Writing on social media platform X, Bright called for serology testing of the infected person, his close contacts, family members, and co-workers, and to get virus samples from cows on the same farm.

Protecting yourself from bird flu


Avian flu cases in dairy cattle have been confirmed in 12 states. While the virus has a high mortality rate in poultry, most affected cattle reportedly recover with supportive treatment — the mortality/culling rate has been low, at 2% or less.

Taking the following steps may reduce the risk of getting bird flu:

  • Do not touch sick or dead animals or wear personal protective equipment, including an N95 respirator, if you have to do so.
  • After handling sick or dead animals, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid drinking raw milk: a recent study found that pasteurization inactivates the bird flu virus.
  • Cook eggs and poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and follow other food safety guidelines.

The HHS recently announced a deal with pharmaceutical giant Moderna to develop an mRNA-based pandemic influenza vaccine.

Earlier this year, the U.S. ordered 4.8 million doses of flu vaccine, in an effort to step up government response to the bird flu outbreak.


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