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Colorado Dairy Worker Becomes 4th Human Bird Flu Case

By Ryan Hanrahan

Reuters’ Leah Douglas reported last week that “public health officials in Colorado on Wednesday announced an adult man had tested positive for avian flu after reporting mild symptoms, including conjunctivitis, or pink eye. The man is an employee at a dairy farm who had exposure to infected cattle and recovered after antiviral treatment, officials said.”

“It was the fourth human case of bird flu reported in the U.S. since avian flu was confirmed in cows in March,” Douglas reported. “The prior three people to test positive were also dairy farm workers who recovered.”

CBS News’ Jesse Sarles and Alexander Tin reported last week that “the Colorado worker was tested after reporting his symptoms and received an antiviral treatment with oseltamivir afterwards. Those are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended steps when there’s a confirmed human case. The man, whose identity is not being released, has recovered.”

Colorado Currently Has Worst Outbreak in US

The Colorado Sun’s John Ingold reported last week that “Colorado’s outbreak of bird flu among dairy cattle is now the worst in the country, with more cases in the past month than any other state, according to the latest state and federal data.”

“As of Monday evening, Colorado had identified 26 herds with cases of avian influenza. Of those, 22 were identified within the past month and the herds are still in quarantine,” Ingold reported. “Four other cases were identified earlier and quarantines have since been lifted. All affected herds are in the northeastern part of the state.”


“Colorado’s recent cases far exceed those in any other state — Iowa and Idaho are the only other states to record double-digit case totals in the past month, with 12 and 10, respectively,” Ingold reported. “Colorado’s case total since bird flu was first identified in dairy cattle this spring places the state second nationally, behind only Idaho and one ahead of Michigan. But Colorado ranks far lower in dairy production than those states — the state was 13th in the country for milk production in 2023, according to federal data.”

“On a per-cow basis, Colorado’s outbreak is roughly three times worse than Idaho’s, which has approximately 667,000 dairy cattle compared with 201,000 in Colorado,” Ingold reported.

Ingold reported that Dr. Maggie Baldwin, the state veterinarian, “suggested that Colorado’s efforts at disease detection may be reflected in the state’s high numbers. She said the state has put in a lot of work getting information to dairy producers, as well as industry associations and veterinarians.”

Vaccines Still in Progress

Reuters’ Julie Steenhuysen and Douglas reported at the beginning of July that “the U.S. government has awarded $176 million to Moderna to advance development of its bird flu vaccine, the company said on Tuesday, as concerns rise over a multi-state outbreak of H5N1 virus in dairy cows and infections of (four) dairy workers since March.”

“Funds from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will be used to complete late-stage development and testing of a pre-pandemic mRNA-based vaccine against H5N1 avian influenza,” Steenhuysen and Douglas reported. “U.S. officials said on a press call that late-stage testing would begin in 2025, pending results expected in the coming weeks of Moderna’s phase 1 trial. The late-stage trial would likely focus on safety and immune response.”

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