Six birds test positive for avian flu in Orange County
Orange County is getting its first confirmed cases of human infection with the H5N1 strain of the avian flu virus, health officials said today. The first case was confirmed just after midnight yesterday.
The health department has also confirmed an additional five cases of the virus this morning, including one in an elderly woman who was admitted to the intensive care unit.
All the birds tested have been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
There were no immediate reports of cases among humans in the U.S.
Health officials said the woman’s husband and a number of other relatives were treated with antiviral medication.
Health officials are notifying poultry producers in Orange County that they have to stop handling poultry for at least two days, and are also recommending that they all wear masks to try to discourage further spread of the virus among the birds.
Dr. M. Robert Finsinger, Orange County health officer and chief medical officer, said Orange County has set up a hotline for anyone with questions or concerns about avian influenza. Call (714) 771-5656.
Health officials are also sending a team of epidemiologists to New York to help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigate further the origin of the H5N1 virus.
The World Health Organization said today it had reported more than 1,100 confirmed cases of the H5N1 virus in people worldwide. This is the highest number of cases reported since the deadly strain of flu virus was identified in Hong Kong in 1997.
The virus is believed to be spreading to new animals. The H1N1 flu virus, which killed more than 49,000 people in the United States this year, has not been as contagious.
The bird flu virus has been causing a surge in morbidity and mortality reported to the CDC this year, and it’s possible this new strain will make