Be on the Lookout for the Influenza A(H5N1) Bird Flu Strain!

June 7, 2024

So far, not detected in Illinois

A multi-state outbreak of Influenza A(H5N1) bird flu strain in dairy cows was reported for the first time on March 25, 2024. Although detection of this flu is new for cattle, outbreaks in wild birds and poultry have been occurring in the United States since 2022.

While nine states have reported this bird flu strain in cattle affecting 67 dairy herds as of May 28, 2024, no dairy herds in Illinois have reported testing positive for this virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two human Influenza A(H5N1) infections following exposure to dairy cattle in Texas and Michigan were presumed to be infected with the virus – likely the first instance of mammal to human transmission.

While the current risk to the general public from H5N1 bird flu is considered to be low, it is very important to mitigate transmission of this strain before it can undergo genetic reassortment with more virulent and transmissible strains from other mammals or seasonal influenza.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released an Avian Influenza Increased Summer Surveillance Health Alert that includes what action doctors can take, how to diagnose, prevention strategies and treatment options. Healthcare professionals should consider obtaining a history about potential exposure to farms, animals or raw milk for those patients who present with conjunctivitis, influenza-like illness and/or test positive for influenza.

If you have questions, please contact the ISMS Health Policy Research and Advocacy team by email.

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