Person Infected With Bird Flu in Texas

Patient in Texas Contracts Bird Flu After Close Contact With Dairy Cattle

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Dairy cows in Texas appear to be the source of an influenza A(H5N1) infection in a person who showed symptoms of pink eye. The patient is the first human case of the novel virus in Texas following cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza among dairy cows now reported in five states. (DTN file photo)

This article was originally posted at 1:52 p.m. CDT on Monday, April 1. It was last updated with additional information at 7:12 p.m. CDT on Monday, April 1.


OMAHA (DTN) -- A person in Texas who was in contact with dairy cows infected with a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza now also has become ill with the virus.

While officials reported the first human case tied to a Texas cattle herd, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) late Monday also confirmed the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in five additional Texas cattle herds as well as in a New Mexico dairy herd.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday that the patient was showing signs of conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. The patient's case is "believed to be associated with the recent detections of avian influenza A(H5N1) in dairy cows," the Texas health department stated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a news release stating the patient reported eye redness as their only symptom and is recovering. The patient was told to isolate and is being treated with an antiviral drug for flu.

"This infection does not change the H5N1 bird flu health risk assessment for the U.S. general public, which CDC considers to be low," the agency stated.

However, people are at a greater risk for infection if they have prolonged, unprotected exposure to infected birds or other animals, including livestock, or areas contaminated by infected birds or animals, the CDC stated.

The CDC noted that a previous case of influenza A(H5N1) in a person occurred in Colorado in 2022.

The infection of a person comes following a week in which the CDC, USDA and other state and federal agencies have reported the infection and spread of H5N1 in dairy cattle across five states. To date, USDA has confirmed the detection of HPAI in dairy herds in Texas (7) Kansas (2), Michigan (1) and New Mexico (1). The presumptive positive test results for the Idaho herd are still pending analysis.

On March 25, officials confirmed that two dairy farmers in the Texas Panhandle and one dairy farm in Kansas had cattle that had become sick and tested positive for H5N1. Officials stated that the strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza appeared to have come from wild birds and had hit primarily older dairy cows causing "decreased lactation, low appetite, and other symptoms."

On March 29, the outbreak of dairy cattle had spread to five states with confirmed cases of avian influenza in Michigan with more "presumptive positive tests" in Idaho and New Mexico, according to federal officials.

State officials in Michigan and Idaho also each stated that the affected dairies in their states had received the dairy cows from farms in Texas.


As these cases have cropped up, state and federal officials have stressed there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply.

Dairies are required to send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption, and milk from affected animals is being diverted or destroyed so that it does not enter the human food supply.

Pasteurization has also continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk. Pasteurization is required for any milk entering interstate commerce for human consumption.

FDA has a longstanding position that unpasteurized, raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to consumers, and FDA is reminding consumers of the risks associated with raw milk consumption in light of the HPAI detections.

The CDC recommends people should avoid unprotected exposures to sick or dead animals including wild birds, poultry, other domesticated birds, and other wild or domesticated animals (including cattle), as well as with animal carcasses, raw milk, feces (poop), litter, or materials contaminated by birds or other animals with confirmed or suspected HPAI A(H5N1)-virus infection.

People should not prepare or eat uncooked or undercooked food or related uncooked food products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, or products made from raw milk such as cheeses, from animals with confirmed or suspected HPAI A(H5N1)-virus infection (avian influenza or bird flu). Specific recommendations for farmers; poultry, backyard flock, and livestock owners; and worker protection are also available.


Officials have said dairies should restrict access to essential personnel only, while disinfecting vehicles entering or leaving a farm, along with isolating affected cattle and destroying all contaminated milk. It's important to clean and disinfect all livestock watering devices and isolate any water that could have been contaminated by waterfowl.

Farmers are asked to notify their veterinarians if they suspect cattle in their herds are displaying symptoms.

Also see "Bird Flu Outbreak in Dairy Cows Spreads to Michigan, Idaho and New Mexico" here:….

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Chris Clayton