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CDC urges states to protect farmworkers from bird flu — even in states it hasn't shown up in yet

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking state health officials to work with their agriculture department counterparts and community partners to protect farmworkers against bird flu.

Recent outbreaks in dairy cattle herds meant farms with confirmed cases became the priority.

So far, two people in the U.S. have been confirmed to be infected with H5N1, most recently a Texas dairy worker linked to the cattle outbreak, according to the CDC. About two dozen people have been tested and about 100 people have been monitored since the virus appeared in cows, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a CDC respiratory diseases official, told reporters last week.

As of May 2, nine states had confirmed outbreaks in cattle. None have been confirmed in Arizona yet, and the immediate risk to the public is still considered low.

But the CDC is urging proactive measures to protect people whose jobs might expose them to it, with a focus on raising awareness and availability of personal protective equipment.

The agency says it plans to bolster state-level responses through information sharing and staff it says are ready to provide support within 24 hours.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.