Human Case of H5N1 Bird Flu Reported in Texas

April 2, 2024
This is only the second such case ever reported in the U.S.

A person in Texas has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus (“H5N1 bird flu”) after exposure to dairy cattle in Texas presumably infected with the viruses.

CDC continues to consider the human health risk assessment for H5N1 bird flu in the U.S. general public to be low, but they urge that people with “close or prolonged, unprotected exposures to infected birds or other animals (including livestock), or to environments contaminated by infected birds or other animals, are at greater risk of infection.”

This is only the second person reported to have tested positive for A(H5N1) viruses in the United States, after a “previous human case…in 2022 in Colorado” was reported. These infections among humans are generally very rare. Outbreaks were first detected among wild birds and poultry in late 2021, and 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.” This new case has reported eye redness as their only symptom.

Current FDA-approved flu antiviral medications are believed to be effective against these viruses; however, seasonal flu vaccines do not provide protection against them. CDC advises against “unprotected exposures to sick or dead animals…or materials contaminated by birds or other animals with confirmed or suspected HPAI A(H5N1)-virus infection.” If exposed, a person should “be monitored for any signs and symptoms of illness for 10 days after the last known exposure.” The FDA and USDA state there are “no concerns with the safety of the commercial milk supply at this time.”

CDC’s website has the release.