USDA reports more H5N1 detections in poultry, wild birds

farm pigeons

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In its latest updates, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported more H5N1 avian flu detections in poultry and wild birds, including several pigeons in Michigan's Ionia County, an area where the virus has been reported in dairy cows.

In other US developments, a top official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday urged state health and veterinary officials to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to workers on dairy farms, poultry farms, and slaughterhouses.

Pigeons test positive in a Michigan dairy outbreak area

APHIS yesterday reported 16 more H5N1 detections in wild birds, half of them rock pigeons that the agency harvested from Michigan's Ionia County, one of the state's five counties that has reported the virus in dairy herds. 

In some instances, the B3.13 genotype circulating in dairy cows has jumped to wild birds and poultry. APHIS data so far, however, indicates that the Ionia County samples belong to the Eurasian H5N1 lineage. 

The agency also reported the virus in birds found dead in three other states—New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. All are linked to the Eurasian H5N1 strain. 

Samples for the latest batch of wild bird samples were collected in mid to late April.

In other developments, APHIS reported one more outbreak in poultry, which involves a flock of 600 birds in Idaho's Cassia County, which last month reported H5N1 in a dairy herd. Idaho's State Department of Agriculture said the location had backyard birds.

CDC urges PPE for at-risk farm workers

Yesterday the CDC's principal deputy director, Nirav Shah, JD, MD, had a call with state health officials and veterinarians, as well as leaders from public health partners, to discuss PPE for farm workers, according to CDC's readout of the meeting. Along with a request to make PPE available to farm workers, Shah recommended that PPE be prioritized to farms where H5N1 has been detected in dairy cows.

He asked states to use their existing PPE stockpiles and told them how to request more PPE, if needed, from the federal government's Strategic National Stockpile.

The CDC reiterated that the general risk to the US public remains low, but it noted that people with work exposures may be at higher risk.

Shah also said the CDC remains ready to support state health officials who are conducting outbreak response operations.

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