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Unprecedented Surge of Influenza A Virus Detected in US Wastewater Samples Amid Bird Flu Outbreaks

Influenza A Virus Detected in US Wastewater

United States: The latest data by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled that during the crucial time of the outbreaks due to bird flu approximately wastewater sampling of around 189 sites have showed that the level of influenza A virus has been found to be at higher-than-average levels in the handful sites. 

The sites highlighted by the federal health agency were Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois and Kansas. Currently, the H5N1 bird flu has been spreading across the cows of the US and that is a type of influenza A, according to the reports by NBC News. 

In Saline County, Kansas, a lone site exhibited strikingly elevated levels of influenza virus during this period. The CDC reported four (4) clusters in Kansas that tested positive in April.

The extent to which the Kansas wastewater samples encompassed human excrement or included agricultural runoff remains ambiguous. Furthermore, it’s uncertain whether the heightened viral presence in the wastewater signifies infections in humans, cows, birds, or other animals. The CDC stated that there hasn’t been any discernible surge in flu-like maladies in recent times.

“We’re keen to fathom the factors propelling the surge in influenza A during what we traditionally perceive as the low-transmission phase for influenza A,” remarked Jonathan Yoder, deputy overseer of the CDC’s segment on infectious disease preparedness and advancement, according to the NBC News. 

A spokesperson from a prominent healthcare facility in Saline County refrained from offering commentary despite a request for input.

Dr Cameron Wolfe, a specialist in infectious diseases and an adjunct professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina, expressed that the latest CDC findings “are rather reassuring.”

“We’re amidst May,” he noted, “a period when the prevalence of flu is naturally subdued,” Wolfe added that there hasn’t been any noticeable uptick in flu-like ailments in his clinical practice.

As of Tuesday, 42 clusters across nine states—Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas—had been impacted, the reports by NBC News highlighted. 

The agency is closely monitoring 260 individuals who have encountered infected dairy cattle for symptoms resembling those of the flu. Thirty-three individuals have undergone testing for the virus. To date, only one individual—a laborer on a dairy farm in Texas—has been diagnosed with avian flu linked to the outbreak among dairy cattle. He experienced a severe bout of conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, and has since recuperated.

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