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Avian Flu Threat Intensifies, Reaches San Francisco with Two Infections at Bird Market

United States: The threat associated with H5N1 avian flu has been increasing with every passing day. Recently, the infection reached San Francisco, where two fell sick at a live bird market.

According to the official update by the health authorities, the infection has been detected in two asymptomatic chickens and they have assured that there is no sign that the infection among general public, as reported by CBS News.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has outlined that the infection was detected as a part of routine tests conducted at the live bird markets amid the increasing threat of bird flu in the US.

After the case was found in two chickens, the employees at the market were also tested as they were working closely with the infected birds. Meanwhile, none of the employee was tested positive from the infection and they did not even showed any symptoms after a 10-day period. The report was shared by San Francisco Director of Health – Dr Grant Colfax.

Along with this, the authorities mentioned that none of the attendees have tested positive from the infection, since the market was reopened.

While addressing the concern, the department stated, “At this time, there are no reported human cases of H5N1, and H5N1 remains a low risk to the general public,” the statement was shared on Monday.

In a startling development, WastewaterSCAN, a nationwide consortium tracking infectious pathogens in municipal wastewater systems, identified traces of H5N1 genetic sequences in the effluent of San Francisco. This discovery came after the virus was initially detected in poultry. Subsequent analysis yielded no such fragments, prompting the health department to delve deeper into these findings’ interpretation.

As per the official update, “It is possible that the H5N1 fragments detected in wastewater originated from birds or other animals due to San Francisco’s unique combined sewer system that collects and treats both wastewater and stormwater in the same network of pipes.”

Presently, San Francisco stands alone in California with a confirmed H5N1 detection in its wastewater.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is vigilantly overseeing the avian influenza H5N1 situation, noting recent outbreaks among dairy cattle and a singular instance of zoonotic transmission to a dairy worker in Texas, reported on April 1, 2024.

Public health advisories emphasize avoiding contact with all wildlife, particularly sick or deceased birds. Moreover, individuals are urged to adhere to protective measures, such as consuming only pasteurized milk and dairy products.

“There is currently no evidence that the H5N1 virus is spreading person to person, but that is what the CDC is closely watching and working to prevent. At this time, it appears that the potential for avian flu to spark an outbreak in people remains low,” the health authorities mentioned.

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