Colorado Prison Inmate Diagnosed With Human Avian Flu; first case of strain detected in the US

A Colorado prison inmate who was directly exposed to poultry infected with bird flu is the first person in the US to test positive for the current strain.

The man, an inmate at a state correctional facility in Delta County, showed mild symptoms of fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“This case does not change the assessment of human risk to the general public, which the CDC considers to be low,” the CDC said in a statement.

According to the Colorado Department of Health, the man who tested positive is isolating and receiving treatment with an antiviral drug. He worked on a commercial poultry farm as part of a pre-release correctional employment program.

The infected herd was culled and disposed of, the department said; more than 24 million chickens, turkeys and other domestic birds have died in the US since February. The H5 bird flu outbreak is the largest outbreak since 2014-15.

The CDC said H5N1 has been found in U.S. backyard and commercial poultry in 29 states and in wild birds in 34 states since it began tracking the outbreak in late 2021.

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“Because the person was in close contact with infected poultry, the virus may have been present in the person’s nose without causing infection,” the Colorado department said. The CDC said it was appropriate to contain and treat the case as an infection.

The CDC recommends that people who work in direct contact with poultry increase precautions, including the use of gloves, mask and eye protection, and hand washing.

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Although the H5N1 virus can spread between an infected person and a close contact only very rarely, based on past outbreaks, it does not lead to sustained human-to-human spread, the CDC said.

Only one other person is known to have tested positive with the current strain: a person in the UK who keeps birds was infected but did not have any symptoms in December 2021.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Avian Flu: First Human Case of Current H5N1 Strain Located in US

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