Are We About to Be Hit with the Bird Flu Pandemic?

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced that approximately 70 dairy farm workers are being monitored for potential avian flu symptoms after exposure to the virus at two Colorado dairy farms. The identities of the workers and the farms have not been disclosed.

According to a CDPHE spokesperson, none of the workers are currently reporting symptoms of infection. The agency is prepared to coordinate testing for any workers who develop symptoms and ensure the availability of flu antiviral drugs.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) first detected bird flu in a Colorado dairy herd on April 25, with a second herd testing positive on Wednesday. The virus was initially discovered in a Texas dairy herd in late March, where one person became mildly symptomatic, marking the first human case of this particular strain transmitted from another mammal.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 is highly contagious and often deadly in birds, and is easily transmitted between domestic poultry and wild birds. The virus can cause severe infections and potentially lead to human deaths, as demonstrated by a 2023 study involving laboratory monkeys.

To date, 42 dairy herds in nine states have tested positive for the virus. The USDA is offering financial support to affected farms and workers, providing funds for personal protective equipment, enhanced biosecurity measures, and compensation for lost milk production. 

The agency is also conducting regular tests on the commercial milk supply and has issued an order requiring the testing of lactating dairy cattle crossing state lines.

Information for this story was found via CBC News, Bloomberg, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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