Second Human Case of Bird Flu in America Sparks Alarm

According to The Economist, A Michigan farmworker has been diagnosed with bird flu, marking the second human case associated with the current outbreak affecting U.S. dairy cows, state health officials announced Wednesday.

The worker, who had been in contact with cows presumed to be infected, exhibited mild symptoms of an eye infection and has since recovered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The risk to the public remains low,” Michigan health officials assured in their statement.

The CDC noted that while a nasal swab from the patient tested negative for the virus, an eye swab tested positive, indicating an eye infection. An investigation is ongoing to gather more details about the worker’s exposure and condition.

The first human case in this outbreak also involved a mild eye infection, diagnosed as conjunctivitis, in a Texas farmworker who had contact with potentially infected cattle in late March.

Since 2020, the H5N1 bird flu virus, also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), has led to significant illness and death in animal species across the U.S., as reported by CBC, the Fish and Wildlife Service. Migratory birds have been carriers of the virus, which has impacted poultry flocks in numerous states.

To date, there has been no evidence of the virus spreading from person to person. However, public health officials are vigilant for any signs of the virus mutating to facilitate easier human-to-human transmission.

“There’s no evidence that has happened yet, but that’s a big concern,” CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said earlier this month. “The worry would be if it changes in mutations, genetic composition so that it can spread easily from human to human.”

The virus was detected in U.S. livestock earlier this year and has now been confirmed in 51 dairy herds across nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. This has raised concerns about food safety, particularly regarding milk. However, testing has confirmed that pasteurization effectively kills the virus, and the Food and Drug Administration has stated that the commercial milk supply is safe.

Health officials strongly advise against consuming raw milk, despite its promotion by some influencers on social media. told by The Poultry site

“Do not consume unpasteurized dairy products,” Dr. Nidhi Kumar recently told CBS New York. “I know there are people that are real advocates for it, but this is not the time to do it.”

The CDC describes raw milk as “one of the riskiest foods.”

“Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria,” the CDC’s website explains. “Raw milk can be contaminated with harmful germs that can make you very sick,” with symptoms including diarrhea, stomach cramping, and vomiting.