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Dairy Industry Discovering the Need for PPE

05/09/2024

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is cooperating with state health agencies with regard to availability, distribution and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for dairy farm workers.  State health agencies accumulated an inventory of PPE during the COVID years.  The CDC considers it appropriate that dairy farm workers and those in packing plants should be protected.

 

The fact that H5N1 avian influenza virus has been circulating in the dairy industry since late December and that only one mild case of conjunctivitis in a worker has been diagnosed, suggests that currently the risk of transmission to humans is low.  This of course may change with possible additional mutations.  The emergence of a zoonotic strain of H5N1 through the dairy industry seems remote. This is deduced from the history of highly pathogenic avian influenza in large egg-production complexes. Despite thousands of person-hours of exposure of workers involved in depopulation and decontamination apparently only one case was recorded over three years and this was without evidence of human-to-human transmission. Notwithstanding the current situation there is a risk of emergence of a zoonotic strain as noted by the World Health Organization that urges constant surveillance and sequencing of mammalian isolates.