Officials Don’t Know Which Farm Employs Person Who Tested Positive for Bird Flu

Officials Don’t Know Which Farm Employs Person Who Tested Positive for Bird Flu
Poultry in Texas in a file image. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Authorities don’t know which farm employs the Texas farm worker who tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza, they are now saying.

“The dairy worker came to one of DSHS’s field offices to get tested and did not disclose the name of their workplace,” Lara Anton, a press officer for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) told The Epoch Times in an email.

Ms. Anton said the DSHS still doesn’t know which farm employs the person.

The agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on April 1 that a person had a confirmed case of the influenza, commonly known as the bird flu. It represented the second human case of bird flu in the United States, and the first since after the influenza began spreading in cattle.

The person “had direct exposure to dairy cattle presumed to be infected with avian influenza,” DSHS said in a previous statement.

In a paper published on May 3, researchers with the DSHS and CDC reported more details on the case, but said “no specimens from cows or environmental samples were available from the worker’s farm for testing, and epidemiological investigations were not able to be conducted at the farm.”

Ms. Anton’s statement came when asked for more details about the inability to obtain samples from cows and conduct epidemiological investigations.

Dr. Timothy Uyeki, the CDC researcher listed as the paper’s corresponding author, declined to comment.

“I suggest that you contact colleagues in Texas for these questions,” he told The Epoch Times in an email.

Texas officials have been offering to test people who work at dairies and are showing symptoms of the bird flu, and the person who tested positive was among the workers who came forward to receive one of the tests.

“A veterinarian that works with several dairies brought the dairy worker to our attention. The person then came to one of our field offices to get tested,” Ms. Anton said.

The worker experienced eye inflammation, and was later diagnosed with subconjunctival hemorrhage, or a broken eye blood vessel. The worker recovered after several days following treatment with Tamiflu and all of the people with whom they live “remained well,” researchers said in the new paper. The worker was wearing gloves but no mask or eye protection when he or she came into contact with the cows, researchers said.

They said that the worker “reported no contact with sick or dead wild birds, poultry, or other animals but reported direct and close exposure to dairy cows that appeared to be well and with sick cows that showed the same signs of illness as cows at other dairy farms in the same area of northern Texas with confirmed HPAI A(H5N1) virus infection.”

However, they noted that they weren’t able to test data from cattle presumably infected on the farm where the worker works.

Researchers also said they could not obtain follow-up specimens from the worker, which would have allowed them to determine viral levels and how long the virus was being shed, and blood from the worker or their household contacts.

DSHS says it has tested about 20 dairy workers, all with symptoms of influenza. Nationwide, at least 30 people have been tested since March, the CDC said in an update on Friday, out of at least 220 people monitored after exposure to infected cattle.

Officials say that there have likely been some people with symptoms who have not gotten tested. “So we cannot say with absolute certainty that no one else contracted H5N1,” Ms. Anton said.

Another farm worker in Colorado tested positive in 2022 after being close to poultry believed to be infected with the avian influenza.

While that worker also recovered, worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, about half of people with confirmed cases of the avian flu have died.

From The Epoch Times

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