US: IS AVIAN FLU THE NEXT PANDEMIC?

COVID-19 is still present and causing deaths, with public health systems learning from past failures.

Avian flu (H5N1) is spreading among birds and some cows, and there is concern it could affect humans. Currently, it mostly spreads from animals to humans, not between humans.

Workers in close contact with infected animals, such as those on dairy farms, are at risk. There have been a few human cases, but with only mild symptoms.

Experts worry the virus could mutate and become a severe pandemic. The virus has been found in milk and wastewater in the US, indicating broader circulation.

Workers should avoid contact with sick animals and use protective equipment.

Many dairy workers are immigrants with limited access to healthcare. There is a lack of widespread testing for both animals and workers, making it hard to track the virus.

Various federal agencies are involved, but their efforts are fragmented. The Biden administration offers compensation to farmers for cooperating with containment measures.

More efforts are needed to reach and educate farm workers, offer testing, antiviral medications, and vaccines.

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