Health and Wellness

‘Be prepared’: CDC convenes urgent bird flu outbreak meeting where it tells state health officials to get ready for more human cases

The CDC has convened an urgent meeting over a potential outbreak of bird flu in the United States — amid fears the virus could jump to humans.

At the meeting on Friday, local health officials were urged to have ‘up-to-date operational plans’ in place in case any farm workers were infected with the virus in their state.

They were told to have plans to quickly test any workers suspected of being infected and also to isolate them and rapidly administer treatment.

Officials say the risk from bird flu to the public is low, but farm workers in close contact with infected animals and equipment are thought to be at higher risk.

Only one case has been reported in a person in Texas so far, but cattle on 16 farms across six states have also tested positive for the virus.

Doctors are now being urged to test any farm workers for the virus who they suspect of being infected with H5N1.

The meeting was led by top officials including the CDC’s deputy director Nirav Shah and its director Dr Demetre Daskalakis, who was involved in the national response to the outbreak of monkeypox — or mpox — in 2022.

At the meeting, officials emphasized that the risk to the public remained low but that local health leaders should be ‘prepared to respond’.

A release from the CDC read: ‘CDC recommended that state public health officials… ensure that they have up-to-date operational plans to respond to avian influenza at the state level.

‘For example, the CDC emphasized the importance of having plans in place to quickly test and provide treatment to potentially impacted farm workers following positive results among cattle herds.

‘CDC also encouraged state health officials to communicate about any challenges they are facing.’

Representatives from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials also attended the meeting, whose members include health officials from all 50 states, Washington D.C. and five US territories.

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