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A second U.S. dairy worker caught bird flu

A second U.S. dairy worker caught bird flu

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the case on May 22

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A second U.S. dairy farm employee became ill with the H5N1 bird flu.

On May 22, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the case in a “farmworker who had regular exposure to livestock infected with influenza A (H5),” the department said in a statement.

Symptoms of bird flu illness in a human can include cough, sore throat, body aches and shortness of breath.

An eye swab from the worker showed an eye infection, the CDC said in its own May 22 statement.

The Michigan worker has since recovered, the state health department said.

This is the second case of a human working within the dairy industry catching bird flu in 2024.

The first occurred in Texas in late March. That employee also only reported eye inflammation and recovered.

Overall, it’s the third case of an American catching bird flu related to farm animal exposure.

That occurred in 2022, when a Colorado ag employee involved with depopulating poultry in Colorado, became ill.

That person only reported fatigue and made a full recovery.

More U.S. dairy herds are becoming infected with bird flu.

As of May 23, 58 herds in nine states are managing the illness.

Despite the ongoing outbreak, officials are reminding Americans that pasteurized milk is safe to drink.

A May 10 update from the FDA indicates the 297 samples it collected from 17 states supports “our assessment that the milk safety system including pasteurization is effective against this virus and that the commercial milk supply remains safe.”

This isn’t stopping social media influencers from promoting raw milk.

Dr. Paul Saladino, for example, has multiple videos on his TikTok account promoting raw milk and its advantages over pasteurized milk. A video from April of this year has been seen more than 23,000 times.

Influencers using their platforms to drive consumers towards a potentially harmful product is wrong, said Alan Bjerga, executive vice president of communications and industry relations with the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

“It’s absolute misinformation and dangerous to public health,” he told Farms.com. “People need to behave responsibly. And right now, raw milk consumption is not responsible. In normal times, the raw milk movement is an unfortunate sideshow. The H5N1 situation is a classic example about why we have public measures requiring pasteurization.”

Raw milk sales are legal in the U.S.

Raw milk can be sold within its own state. But any milk sold across state lines must be pasteurized.


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