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A Michigan farmworker has been diagnosed with bird flu, marking the second case in the US linked to dairy cows

An avian influenza A H5N1 virion (Via Jack Perlman/Getty Images)

A dairy worker in Michigan has been diagnosed with bird flu, marking the second human case linked to an outbreak among U.S. dairy cows.

The worker had contact with cows at a farm where animals were infected. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has since recovered, according to U.S. and Michigan health officials who announced the case on Wednesday.

While a nasal swab tested negative for the virus, an eye swab taken on Tuesday tested positive for bird flu, indicating an eye infection, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive, described the worker’s symptoms as a mild case with a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month. The worker did not receive oseltamivir, a medication typically used for treating bird flu.

Health officials emphasized that the risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals face higher risks. They recommended offering protective gear, especially eye protection, to these workers.

Opioids (Via Ray Jones/Shutterstock)

There is an ongoing investigation to determine if the Michigan farmworker was using protective eyewear at the time of exposure.

In late March, a similar case was reported in Texas where a farmworker was diagnosed with bird flu after experiencing eye inflammation. The patient recovered without requiring extensive treatment.

Since 2020, bird flu has been spreading among various animal species globally, including dogs, cats, skunks, bears, seals, and porpoises, raising concerns about potential implications for food safety and human transmission.

While the virus has been detected in 51 dairy herds across nine states this year, with fifteen of them in Michigan, there has been no significant spread among humans reported as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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