Contact Us

Sanjay Gupta: How Concerned Should We Be About Avian Flu?

April 11, 2024

This is a guest blog post from WWSG exclusive thought leader, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the second person to test positive for avian flu. This person worked on a dairy farm and had “direct contact with dairy cattle” that had tested positive for avian flu, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.

The CDC said the person who has the H5N1 virus is recovering and was told to isolate.

Their only symptom was eye inflammation, and they were treated with oseltamivir, the Texas health department said. Oseltamivir is the generic version of the antiviral medication Tamiflu.

While the virus itself can make for alarming headlines, how concerned should you be?

There have been a few cases of human transmission in other parts of the world, but fortunately there has been no human-to human spread of the virus in the US. The CDC says it is watching the situation closely and remaining alert but that the “the risk overall for the general public remains low.”

If the virus does mutate and spread among humans, the CDC said, the agency is prepared and can use existing products to detect and protect against it. The strain that was recovered from the latest person who was sick is the same version as in the sick cows and as has been circulating in birds.

Transmission occurs typically among those who have had close contact with sick animals.

The virus can be found in high concentration in milk from sick cows. However, since most milk and dairy products in the US are pasteurized, these products don’t pose a large threat. It is a good reminder though to stay away from raw milk.

Also, it’s always safe to practice good hand washing and hygiene. Remember the best way to wash is to use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. How do you know 20 seconds is up? You can sing or hum “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice. It is a simple step to help you stay healthy.

Subscribe to the WWSG newsletter.

Check Availability

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Speaker List
Share My List