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1st case of bird-to-human transmission of avian flu questioned

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The first case of the bird to human transmission of the avian influenza has been identified, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Doctors say a 40-year-old Colorado man tested positive for the virus

However, a group of experts are skeptical as to whether the case was a true bird-to-human transmission.

News 8 turned to Dr. Shaun Grannis, vice president of data and analytics at the Regenstrief Institute, for an explanation.

“They are actually wondering if he simply has the virus in his mucus secretion, but he’s not actually affected,“ he said. “It’s very common to have viruses come into our nasal passages and we can test positive for it, but not actually get infected.”

Grannis says the man is said to have contracted the virus was a poultry worker. He may have been handling infected birds, got the virus on his hand, and then touched his nose or mouth, which is why his saliva sample showed a positive result. 

Grannis also says if it is a true infection, he wants people to know animal-to-human transmission rarely happens, particularly with the avian flu. 

Regardless, he adds, it’s important health officials monitor the situation closely.