(Des Moines) A Colorado prison inmate has tested positive for bird flu, becoming the first recently confirmed human case to be infected with the disease, which has killed millions of chickens and turkeys. But US federal authorities see few threats to the general public.
Posted at 4:39pm
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday night that the man who tested positive was removing chickens from an infected farm as part of a pre-release program.
According to the CDC, it’s possible the man only had the virus in his nose, where the test is done, but his body wasn’t infected. Colorado public health officials said repeated human tests had come back negative for bird flu.
The man, who was under 40, reported feeling tired for a few days but has since recovered, public health officials and the CDC said. The inmate has been isolated and is being treated with antiviral drugs. Other people involved in the chicken removal have tested negative but will be tested again.
Farm officials had reported an outbreak at a Montrose County farm with 58,000 broiler breeders. When the bird flu was discovered, the inmates were asked to help with the chicken disposal campaign.
Despite this infection, the CDC considers the threat to the general public to be low because transmission of the virus to humans requires close contact with an infected bird.
The current strain of avian influenza, H5N1, has been spreading among backyard and commercial chicken and turkey flocks in the United States since late February. Viruses have been found in farm and backyard birds in 29 states and in wild birds in 34 states. More than 35 million chickens and turkeys have been killed or removed to prevent the spread, the US Department of Agriculture pointed out.
The CDC said it has tracked more than 2,500 people who were exposed to birds infected with the H5N1 virus, but this was the only confirmed case so far.