CDC prepares for possible bird flu risks

Federal officials are moving forward with vaccines for the bird flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing for the possibility of an increased risk to human health from bird flu, also known as avian influenza.

There has been an outbreak of bird flu among dairy cows, with two confirmed human cases reported so far, one in Texas and one in Michigan.


The big picture: The CDC acknowledges that the risk of bird flu to people in the US is currently low, and there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission in the US.

  • Symptoms of bird flu reported in the two human cases were eye redness, and both patients have since recovered.
  • As of May 22, over 350 people with exposure to dairy cows and/or infected unpasteurized cow’s milk have been monitored for bird flu symptoms.
  •  Federal health officials are preparing for potential outbreaks by filling about 4.8 million doses of bird flu vaccine into vials through their national stockpile.
  • The CDC has emphasized the need for preparedness and continued surveillance of bird flu in the spring and summer, with increased testing to help identify cases.
  • Although the currently circulating A (H5N1) viruses do not have the ability to easily spread between people, the CDC warns that they could change in ways that would allow for efficient spread, potentially causing a pandemic.
  • While milk samples have been found with remnants of the virus, pasteurization inactivates the virus. 
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