How worried should we be about bird flu spreading to humans?

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Nina Moini and Ngoc Bui, Minnesota Public Radio News

The H5N1 avian flu has jumped from poultry to goats in Minnesota. In other states, the virus has spread to cattle. In Texas this week, a man contracted the so-called bird flu after coming into contact with infected cows.

Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says the risk to humans remains low despite the emergence of a confirmed human case.

Email newsletter signup

“The virus doesn’t have the right lock and key to get into our cells as it does the bird cells and so the virus has to change some to have that happen,” he explained.

Nonetheless, Osterholm emphasized the importance of being prepared for the next pandemic. “Pandemics are inevitable,” he said. “They’re going to keep happening.”