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Another Michigan farmworker has been diagnosed with bird flu, marking the third human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows. The dairy worker experienced respiratory symptoms such as cough, congestion, sore throat, and watery eyes. He was given antivirals and is now recovering. Public health officials stated that the risk to the general public remains low, with farmworkers being at higher risk due to exposure to infected animals.

Officials in the U.S. and Europe are seeking increased vaccine production to protect workers exposed to bird flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasized that the risk of contracting the virus depends on exposure to infected animals. In the case of the Michigan farmworkers, who were diagnosed with H5N1 Type A, the exposure was direct contact with infected livestock resulting in respiratory and eye symptoms.

The recent cases in Michigan raise concerns about the potential spread of the virus among humans. Dr. Nirav Shah from the CDC mentioned that a person with respiratory symptoms is more likely to transmit the virus compared to someone with an eye infection. The two Michigan workers were not wearing personal protective equipment, which highlights the importance of using face shields and masks to prevent the spread of infection on dairy and poultry farms.

The United Farm Workers estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 workers on U.S. dairy farms. Many of these workers are reluctant to wear protective gear due to the challenging working conditions. The organization has called for better access to equipment such as face shields and for more awareness among workers about the risk of infection. Over 40 people in the U.S. have been tested for the virus, with a majority of them being in Michigan.

Since 2020, the bird flu virus has been spreading among various animal species in multiple countries. The U.S. Agriculture Department confirmed H5N1 in 66 dairy herds across nine states, indicating the widespread nature of the outbreak. This recent case marks the fourth time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with the virus, with previous instances involving a Colorado prison inmate and dairy workers in Michigan.

Efforts are being made to monitor and test individuals who have been exposed to bird flu symptoms, with at least 220 people in Michigan being monitored this year. The CDC and health officials continue to investigate the source of the outbreak and what measures can be taken to prevent further spread. It is essential for dairy workers to be aware of the risks and to use proper protective equipment when working with infected animals to mitigate the spread of the virus.

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