HPAI H5 Detections In North America
Earlier today the USDA, in conjunction with the CDC, held a 45 minute press conference on recent developments surrounding the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 viruses across the western half of the country.
As this presser was well attended by the mainstream media, it has already received a lot of press coverage. Sharon Sanders of FluTrackers live-tweeted the event, and her notes are available at this link.
While there were no huge revelations during today’s event, the information provided by USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford, CDC Medical Officer Dr. Alicia Fry and USDA Southeast Poultry Research Director David Swayne was impressively frank, thorough, and well presented.
Where there were areas of uncertainty – such as the (likely low) potential risk to human health posed by these viruses, or whether and where the virus will spread in the fall – that uncertainty was acknowledged. Always a good sign in effective risk communications.
This afternoon USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford posted a summary on the USDA’s blog site, which you can access at:
Posted by Dr. John Clifford, USDA Chief Veterinary Officer, on April 22, 2015 at 3:36 PM
Meanwhile the CDC has a website on H5 Viruses in the United States where the reader can access the latest information available:
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 infections have been reported in U.S. domestic poultry (backyard and commercial flocks), captive wild birds, and wild birds. HPAI H5 detections began in December 2014 and have continued into March 2015.
No human infections with these viruses have been detected at this time, however similar viruses have infected people in other countries and caused serious illness and death in some cases. While the public health risk posed by these domestic HPAI outbreaks is considered low at this time, it is possible that human infections with these viruses may occur.
Most human infections with avian influenza viruses have occurred after close and prolonged contact with infected birds or the excretions/secretions of infected birds (e.g., droppings, oral fluids). CDC has posted guidance for clinicians and public health professionals, and is working with state health departments and animal health colleagues to minimize public health risk.
- General information about avian influenza in birds
- General information about avian influenza in people
- As a general precaution, people should avoid wild birds and observe them only from a distance; avoid contact with domestic birds (poultry) that appear ill or have died; and avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from wild or domestic birds.
- People who have had contact with infected bird(s) should monitor their own health for possible symptoms (for example, conjunctivitis, or flu-like symptoms).
- People who have had contact with infected birds may also be given influenza antiviral drugs preventatively.
- Health care providers evaluating patients with possible HPAI H5 infection should notify their local or state health departments which in turn should notify CDC. CDC is providing case-by-case guidance at this time.
- There is no evidence that any human cases of avian influenza have ever been acquired by eating properly cooked poultry products.
- CDC will update the public as new information becomes available.