A Colorado prison inmate has become the first person in the U.S. to test positive for bird flu, announced in a statement published on Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
An inmate that worked with poultry
“A person has tested positive for avian influenza A(H5) virus (H5 bird flu) in the U.S., as reported by Colorado and confirmed by CDC. This case occurred in a person who had direct exposure to poultry and was involved in the culling (depopulating) of poultry with presumptive H5N1 bird flu,” wrote the CDC.
Luckily, the CDC further revealed that the patient, who was under age 40, reported fatigue for a few days as their only symptom and has since recovered. The patient is being isolated and treated with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir.
The CDC further added that it had tracked the health of more than 2,500 people who have been exposed to H5N1-infected birds, and all have been found to be infection-free. The agency also said it was possible that the Colorado man only had the virus present in his nose and that his body was not infected.
“The appropriate public health response at this time is to assume this is an infection and take actions to contain and treat,” the CDC statement said.
The risk of continued infections is low
Still, the organization said that the risk of continued infections was not high, putting the public at ease.
“This case does not change the human risk assessment for the general public, which CDC considers to be low,” added the organization.
Lisa Wiley, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, told AP that the infected man was part of a crew of inmates who had been working at a farm in Montrose County before a case of bird flu was confirmed there on April 19. The inmates were then asked to help kill and remove the birds.
Montrose County farm has been reported to be suffering from an outbreak that counts 58,000 broiler breeder chickens infected. Only earlier this week, scientists said that a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 is becoming a global issue, as it has the potential to handicap poultry production significantly.