Another worker at a dairy farm has been infected with avian flu, most likely through contact with a cow, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The Michigan resident – whose gender and workplace were not identified – worked in close contact with cows in one of the 52 Herds in nine states with infected cows.

CDC said it’s still conducting the genetic sequencing to determine whether the virus came from a cow, but that is the “leading hypothesis,” said Nirav Shah, principal deputy director of the CDC.

“This is a worker that was on a farm that was known to have cattle that themselves had tested positive for the H5N1 virus,” Shah said. “So our leading hypothesis is that this was cow-to-human transmission. What the mechanism of that transmission was, is something that remains under investigation right now.”

“The first human case of A(H5N1) bird flu in the United States linked to an outbreak in dairy cows was also the first likely case of human infection with A(H5N1) from a cow globally,” CDC said in a news release. That case, in Texas, was announced April 1. In 2022, a worker in Colorado was infected by poultry.

CDC continued to assert that the risk to humans remains low, and Shah said CDC expected another human infection to occur. “There is no evidence right now of any degree of human-to-human transmission, nor have we seen any increase even in the general region of this case in Michigan or elsewhere, … in influenza-like illness. So, our view is that this situation was something that was predicted.”

He emphasized the importance of cooperation with public health authorities, praising Michigan’s use of active monitoring of farmworkers, which has been aided by “their ability to work with and connect with farms. We’re seeing the benefit of that close working relationship between public health and the agriculture community.”

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USDA also announced expanded assistance to dairy producers beyond those with affected herds. 

Eric Deeble, senior adviser for HPAI at USDA, said USDA will provide up $1,500 to producers with non-affected herds for “to develop and implement biosecurity plans based on existing secure milk supply plans,” which include “recommended enhanced biosecurity for individuals that frequently move between dairy farms. That includes folks like milk haulers, veterinarians feed truck drivers, [and] AI technicians.”

USDA also will provide $100 payments to producers who want to buy and use an inline sampler for their milk system to facilitate testing. In addition, USDA is “covering fees for veterinarians to collect samples for H5N1 testing,” he said. 

“Veterinary sample collection costs are eligible to be covered from April 29,” the date the federal order requiring testing of lactating cows being shipped to another state, for up to $2,000 per premises.

Lastly, USDA will pay for shipping costs of samples, up to $50 per shipment for up to two samples a month.

Deeble also said it would take USDA “a few weeks” to design a program to compensate producers with affected herds who have seen a drop in milk production.

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