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Colorado inmate has first confirmed case of H5 bird flu in United States


A Colorado inmate has tested positive for the bird flu, officials said Thursday — the first known confirmed case in the United States from the current international outbreak of the virus.

State health officials said that the risk to the public is low, as person-to-person transmission of the H5N1 avian flu is rare.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health, the man was working in a pre-release program at a commercial poultry farm in Montrose County and had been in contact with infected birds.

A positive test was confirmed earlier this week following a nasal swab test. The result was confirmed by the CDC on Thursday.

There have been no other confirmed human cases of the new strain in the US.

The infected man, who is “younger than 40,” is asymptomatic and only reporting feeling fatigued and is currently quarantining as he recovers.

Bird flu
The risk to the public is low, as person-to-person transmission of the H5N1 avian flu is rare.
AP/Charlie Neibergall

The affected flock was “euthanized and disposed of,” CDPH said. 

“We want to reassure Coloradans that the risk to them is low,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “I am grateful for the seamless collaboration between CDC, Department of Corrections, Department of Agriculture, and CDPHE, as we continue to monitor this virus and protect all Coloradans.”

The inmate is the second man worldwide to be infected with this particular strain of the virus after a person in the UK contracted the virus after coming into contact with infected birds in January.

The avian influenza has been detected in both wild animals and domestic birds, according to the department.

To avoid the virus, officials said people should avoid contact with birds that are dead or appear sick as well as avoiding surfaces where bird feces is present.

On Tuesday, a 4-year-old Chinese boy was recorded as having the first human infection with the H3N8 strain of bird flu, according to the country’s health authority. The boy from the central Henan province was found to have been infected with the variant after developing a fever and other symptoms on April 5.



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