CDC recommends PPE for livestock workers as bird flu risk remains low

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday asked state public health officials to make personal protective equipment (PPE) available to livestock workers to combat the spread of bird flu.

The risk of bird flu to the general public still remains low, according to the CDC’s assessment, but workers in close proximity to livestock such as at dairy farms, poultry farms and slaughterhouses remain at a higher risk of infection.

“CDC asked that jurisdictions make PPE available to workers on dairy farms, poultry farms, and in slaughterhouses. Specifically, CDC asked state health departments to work with their state agriculture department counterparts and partners in communities, such as farmworker organizations, that can help coordinate and facilitate PPE distributions,” read a readout from the call.

CDC Principal Deputy Director Nirav D. Shah recommended to public health officials that PPE be prioritized for workers on farms where cows have been confirmed to have been infected with bird flu.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has been detected in U.S. cattle, leading to at least one infection of a livestock worker in Texas. Though virus fragments have been detected in samples of commercially available pasteurized milk, regulators have yet to determine if these findings indicate a risk of infection.

The Department of Agriculture is also currently beef for bird flu, though the agency has said it is confident the U.S. meat supply is safe.

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