Should you be concerned about bird flu?

We’re hearing more about bird flu lately…

Not only has it resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of poultry, it has now been detected spreading in both cattle and goats, as well as a cluster of cats on a Texas dairy farm, which scientists didn’t believe were even susceptible to the virus. And because bird flu has made its way to dairy cows, viral fragments are turning up in the milk supply.

It has recently infected a person after close contact with animals carrying the virus.

But in an interview with NBC News, Dr. Keith Poulsen, director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said he’s heard reports of flu-like illnesses on dairy farms where the virus has been identified in animals.

“It’s certainly not a large amount,” he said, “but there’s probably a lot of [human] cases that are not documented.”

So, the question most of us have is should we be worried about bird flu? And if so, what do we need to know?

‘Enormous concern’

According to the WHO, because the H5N1 bird flu virus is spreading from one species to another, including to humans there is cause for ‘enormous concern’.

As the UN health agency’s chief scientist Jeremy Farrar explains, “The great concern of course is that in… infecting ducks and chickens and then increasingly mammals, that virus now evolves and develops the ability to infect humans and then critically the ability to go from human to human.”

From 2003 to April 1st of this year, the WHO has followed a total of 889 infections in humans in 23 countries. These infections have resulted in 463 deaths, which puts the fatality rate for bird flu at approximately 52 percent.

That is in comparison to COVID-19, for which Johns Hopkins places the fatality rate in the U.S. at just 1.1 percent.

Despite the high fatality rate of bird flu in humans, however, there may be variance based on country and level of care received. There have been only 2 documented cases of infection in the U.S.

In 2022, a prison inmate was infected from birds at a poultry farm in Colorado, the only symptom was fatigue.

According to AP News, the person most recently infected in Texas only reported symptoms of eye redness.

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Avoid the risk

Bird flu is currently not spreading via human-to-human transmission, and the CDC believes the current risk of A(H5N1) infection to the general public remains low. Those most at risk are people with close and prolonged exposure to infected animals and their environments.

So it’s a good idea to avoid contact with animals that may be infected and places where these animals are kept — particularly poultry and dairy farms.

Although the findings of the virus in milk are a worry, scientists say that the genetic material found is not the same as infectious virus. And they believe that pasteurization inactivates the virus in milk. That means raw, unpasteurized milk could be potentially dangerous.

However, as Dr. Rick Bright, a virologist and the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), says, “There’s so many critical things that we still need to know to get a better perspective on how bad this is, or maybe it’s not so bad.”

If you’ve been in contact with an animal you think might be infected or experience symptoms, talk to your doctor.

In the meantime, it’s always a good idea to follow common sense advice, such as following a healthy diet to keep your immune system strong and beefing up particular supplements with a long history of supporting immune health, like vitamin C, vitamin D and probiotics that promote microbial balance in your gut to help fight off pathogens.

Also, it’s important to note that a 2016 study in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Science found that hibiscus tea extract significantly and quickly reduced the virus and stopped it from replicating in Petri dishes.

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WHO Warns Growing Spread of Bird Flu to Humans Is ‘Enormous Concern’ — Science Alert

What to know about the latest bird flu outbreak in the US — AP News

As bird flu spreads in cows, here are 4 big questions scientists are trying to answer — NPR


Bird flu cases are likely being missed in dairy workers, experts say — NBC News

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.