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H5N1 Bird Flu Information and Resources (05/21/24)

Avian influenza A (H5N1) is a subtype of influenza virus that causes severe respiratory disease in birds and can infect humans. It is also known as bird flu or highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). H5N1 was first detected in poultry in China in 1996 and has since spread to more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The virus can be transmitted from birds to humans through direct contact with infected poultry or their secretions, or through exposure to contaminated environments. However, human-to-human transmission of H5N1 is rare and has not resulted in sustained outbreaks. As of May 21, 2024, there have been 860 confirmed cases of human infection with H5N1 worldwide, with 454 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most of these cases occurred in countries where H5N1 is endemic in poultry, such as Egypt, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Current Status of H5N1 in the US
There has been widespread detection of H5N1 in wild birds in the US.  The CDC and US Department of Agriculture are currently monitoring an outbreak H5N1 cases in cattle and poultry in the United States.  As of May 17, 2024, there have been cases of H5N1 reported in cattle in 9 states.   So far, there have only been two (2) reported cases of H5N1 in humans.  The first was back in 2022 following exposure to poultry.  The second case was reported in April, 2024 following exposure to dairy cattle.  The USDA has tested retail ground beef samples and found no traces of H5N1, the avian influenza virus type A (H5N1). The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) collected 30 samples from retail outlets in states with dairy cattle herds that had tested positive for H5N1, and the samples were sent to National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for PCR testing. The results from NVSL on May 1, 2024, showed that all samples tested negative for H5N1.  Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tested 297 dairy product samples for H5N1, with all samples being negative.  The FDA emphasizes that the pasteurization process for treating milk products in the US would inactivate any influenza virus. The FDA further advises that raw or unpasteurized milk and dairy products should not be consumed. CDC emphasizes that the risk to humans for acquiring H5N1 is very small.  

Prevention and Treatment of H5N1
The best way to prevent H5N1 infection in humans is to avoid contact with sick or dead birds, or their droppings, feathers, or blood. People who work with poultry or live in areas where H5N1 is present should wear protective clothing, gloves, and masks, and wash their hands frequently. They should also avoid eating or handling raw or undercooked poultry or eggs, and report any signs of illness in themselves or their animals to the local health authorities. People who travel to countries where H5N1 is endemic should follow the same precautions, and avoid visiting live bird markets or poultry farms. They should also consult their health care provider before and after their trip, and seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza, such as fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing, within 10 days of their return.

There is currently no licensed vaccine for H5N1 in humans, although several candidates are in development and clinical trials. The US government has stockpiled some experimental H5N1 vaccines for emergency use, in case of a pandemic. Antiviral drugs, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), can reduce the severity and duration of H5N1 infection, if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. However, some strains of H5N1 have shown resistance to these drugs, and their availability and accessibility may be limited in some regions. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of H5N1 cases is essential to prevent complications and deaths, and to reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission. The WHO recommends that all suspected and confirmed cases of H5N1 infection be isolated and treated with antiviral drugs, and that their close contacts be monitored and given prophylactic antiviral drugs, if indicated.

For additional information, please visit the CDC H5N1 website:  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-flu-summary.htm   

Measles Information and Resources (03/05/2024)

If you think you have signs and symptoms of measles or believe you have been in contact with someone measles, contact the Florida Department of Health at 850-245-4461. 

What is Measles?

Measles is an upper respiratory disease caused by the measles virus.  It is one of the most, if not the most contagious virus of humans.  It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.  Infected persons can spread the virus to others from four days before up through four days after a rash appears on the body.  The measles virus is spread from person to person by breathing contaminated air or touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Measles can live for up to two hours in an airspace after an infected person leaves the area.  

Current Measles Cases in Florida:

There are currently several outbreaks of measles within the United States, including Florida.  The cases in Florida began with an 3rd grade student in Broward County, who had no history of travel.  This implies that the case was locally acquired.  Other cases in the same school have since occurred.  As of Sunday, March 3rd, Florida has reported at least 14 cases of measles.  It is unknown at this point if all cases are linked and how many are associated with travel.  

Measles Risk, Symptoms and Progression:

Measles was declared eliminated in the USA in the year 2000.  Most cases within the USA since then have been associated with people acquiring the disease as a result of travel outside the USA.  While the risk of contracting measles remains low, people should be vigilant about recognizing signs and symptoms of the disease, which include:  high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes.  Additionally, the measles rash will appear 3-5 days after first symptoms.  The rash usually begins as flat red spots on the face and hairline that progressively spread downward to the neck, torso, arms, legs and feet.  

Prognosis for Measles:

While measles usually resolves on its own in 14-21 days, complications from the infection can occur.  These complications are most likely to appear in children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age.  Common complications include ear infections and diarrhea.  Severe complications can include pneumonia and encephalitis.  Additionally, a progressive, fatal neurological disease that affects the central nervous system, called Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE), is associated with children that have a history of measles infection at an early age.  

How to Prevent Measles:

The best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated.  The MMR vaccine protects against three diseases:  measles; mumps and rubella. It is usually given as two doses, the first given at 12-15 months of age and the second given at 4-6 years of age.  The vaccine is safe and effective with two doses being 97% effective at preventing measles and prevents measles complications.  If you were not vaccinated as a child, CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible.   

For more information on Measles:



SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 Updates

Status:  COVID-19 continues to circulate in our communities and is expected to continue with variability in case rates and transmission levels.  As of March 1, 2024, the CDC has relaxed the guidelines on COVID-19.  Find the lates information on COVID-19 here

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