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May 3, 2022 4:17 PM

Avian Influenza Infection Identified in Montrose County

(May 3, 2022) – Last week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) identified the first US case and the second worldwide of human infection by avian flu (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, HPAI), also known as H5N1 flu.

This action came after an individual tested positive for influenza A (H5) after working on a farm with infected poultry in Montrose County. Repeat testing resulted in negative indications for influenza.

The adult male under 40 is largely asymptomatic, reporting only fatigue, has been isolating and receiving the flu antiviral medication oseltamivir (Tamiflu) per CDC guidance. Public health experts believe that the risk to people is low as H5 flu viruses spread among wild birds and poultry. They do not normally infect humans nor spread from person to person. There are currently no known cases of this H5 flu virus spreading from person to person. There are no other confirmed human cases in Colorado or the United States at this time. The affected flock has been euthanized and disposed of under the guidance of the USDA and CDA.

“While this infection occurred nearby, human infections with avian flu are rare and there is a very low risk of spread amongst people,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “Necessary precautions have been taken as the virus continues to be monitored by experts across the country.”

Given that H5N1 is most commonly spread through direct exposure to infected birds, people should avoid contact with poultry and wild birds that appear ill or dead and avoid surfaces that appear contaminated with saliva, mucus, or feces from wild or domestic birds. Experts advise the use of gloves for those that must handle sick or dead poultry to wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.

It is safe to eat properly handled and cooked poultry and poultry products in the United States. The proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F kills bacteria and viruses, including H5N1 viruses.

CDC and CDPHE will continue to provide further updates to the situation and update guidance as needed. The CDC said it monitored H5N1 viruses for genetic changes that have been associated with adaptation to mammals, which could indicate a virus could spread more readily to people from birds.

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