Several important events have happened this week in the ongoing avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. Here's what you need to know.

Second Human Case Of HPAI Infection In U.S. Reported

The CDC reported on Wednesday, May 22, 2024 that another farm worker has been infected with the HPAI virus in Michigan. The individual worked on an affected dairy farm, and tests indicated they were negative for human influenza but positive for H5N1. Like the previous human case, the worker was primarily experiencing symptoms like conjunctivitis in the eye.

The CDC affirms that it believes the risk to the general public is low, but that farm workers should take extra precautions, especially around sick animals.

H5N1 Virus Vaccine Plan May Be In The Works

SeekingAlpha reports that the U.S. pandemic response team is in talks with Pfizer and Moderna to develop a vaccine plan against avian influenza. Moderna confirmed the report on a pandemic flu vaccine being in development. These reports have seen a stock boost for vaccine producers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also indicated that it is currently working on converting its bulk stockpile of avian flu vaccine into finished doses.

Michigan Poultry Farm Lays Off Work Force "Temporarily"

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Ionia County, Michigan announced it would lay off about 400 workers and contractors in response to the emergency outbreaks across the state. WKAR noted the statement indicated this was meant to be a temporary measure.

A contractor that works with Herbruck's told WKAR, "They don’t want the workers to be around others from different farms in case there’s an outbreak elsewhere."

Fingers Pointing At Mallard Ducks

Several recent reports are drawing attention to a key transmitter of avian influenza: waterfowl, particularly mallard ducks. These birds are primary transmitters of the virus.

Civil Eats provided a lengthy analysis and discussion of how industrial farms and wetland spaces make a perfect catalyst for transmission. Feed fields and farm ponds are a particular attraction for wild waterfowl.

An extensive Reuters report offers an interactive graphic that shows how annual bird migration, particularly that of the mallard duck, can spread avian flu. The maps also show the interaction between these flight paths and existing poultry farms.

The Pacific Northwest Ag Network will continue to report the latest news about HPAI and its effect on producers and workers. 

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