A Texas resident who was directly exposed to dairy cattle that were “presumed to be infected with avian influenza” is being treated for bird flu, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday.

The patient, whose only symptom was eye inflammation, was tested for bird flu late last week, the department said, “with confirmatory testing performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the weekend. The patient is being treated with the antiviral drug oseltamivir. The case does not change the risk for the general public, which remains low.”

In a separate release also announcing the infection, the CDC said the case doesn't alter the H5N1 bird flu human health risk assessment for the general public, "which CDC considers to be low.”

It’s only the second time a person has been infected with the H5N1 subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the United States. The previous case was in Colorado in 2022, “which involved a person working as a culler on an infected commercial farm,” according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

That person recovered, CDC said

“Human infections with avian influenza A viruses, including A(H5N1) viruses, are uncommon but have occurred sporadically worldwide,” CDC said. “Human illnesses with H5N1 bird flu have ranged from mild (e.g., eye infection, upper respiratory symptoms) to severe illness (e.g., pneumonia) that have resulted in death in other countries.”

In an update on Friday, USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and CDC said they had confirmed bird flu in more dairy cattle beyond the detections confirmed in Texas and Kansas on March 25:

“USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has now also confirmed the presence of HPAI in a Michigan dairy herd that had recently received cows from Texas,” the news release from USDA, FDA and CDC said. “Presumptive positive test results have also been received for additional herds in New Mexico, Idaho, and Texas.”

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“The NVSL has also confirmed that the strain of the virus found in Michigan is very similar to the strain confirmed in Texas and Kansas that appears to have been introduced by wild birds (H5N1, Eurasian lineage goose/Guangdong clade,” the federal agencies said.

The statement said the risk to the public remains low and that initial testing hadn't detected any changes in the virus to make it more transmissible to humans. 

“Among the dairies whose herds are exhibiting symptoms, the affected animals have recovered after isolation with little to no associated mortality reported," the statement said.

The agencies said there still isn't any concern about the safety of the milk supply, since products are pasteurized before being sold. 

"H5 bird flu is widespread among wild birds in the U.S. and globally," CDC said. "These viruses also have caused outbreaks in commercial and backyard poultry flocks, and sporadic infections in mammals." 

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