Bird Flu Detected in Alpacas for the First Time in the US

WASHINGTON – In a first, bird flu cases have been detected in alpacas at a farm in the United States, according to authorities on May 29. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the presence of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus at an Idaho farm, where infected poultry had been removed earlier in the month, the US Agriculture Department reported.

The department noted that the detection of bird flu in alpacas is not entirely unexpected, given the earlier infections at the farm. However, this marks the first instance of the virus being found in alpacas, which are part of the camel family, native to the Andes, and primarily raised for their fleece.

Recently, the H5N1 variant has been identified in over 50 animal species in the United States, including dairy cows. Additionally, two individuals working on farms have contracted bird flu, though they experienced only mild symptoms.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has assessed the risk to the public as low but anticipates more cases. Experts are increasingly concerned about the growing number of mammals infected with bird flu, despite the rarity of human cases.

Currently, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission, but health officials remain vigilant. They fear that widespread human infection could lead to a mutation of the virus, potentially enabling human-to-human transmission, which could have serious public health implications.