Person in Texas diagnosed with rare bird flu case

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Dairy cattleImage source, Getty Images

A person in Texas has tested positive for bird flu, the second US human case of the virus that has infected herds of dairy cows in recent weeks.

State health officials said the patient had experienced eye redness after coming into contact with sick cows.

The risk to the general public is low, experts said, but people should take precautions when around ill animals.

The Texas patient is being treated with an antiviral drug and is isolating.

Despite its name, the virus is not limited to birds, and in recent weeks it has been detected in cows in several states, including Texas, Kansas and Michigan. It does not normally spread to people, but human infections have occurred in rare cases around the world.

In people, the virus, also known as avian flu, can cause symptoms that range from mild illness, such as upper respiratory and eye infections, to severe disease such as pneumonia that can be fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The first human case of H5N1 bird flu in the US occurred in 2022 in Colorado, when a person became ill after direct exposure to poultry presumed to be infected. That person experienced fatigue for a few days and made a full recovery.

While avian flu is often fatal in poultry, it has been less lethal for cattle.

The CDC advises people to avoid exposure to sick or dead animals including wild birds, poultry and cattle. The agency also says people should not eat uncooked or undercooked related food products such as unpasteurized milk and cheeses.

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