Readout of CDC Call with State Public Health Partners Regarding Avian Influenza and Farmworker Protection

Media Alert

For Immediate Release: Monday, May 6, 2024
Contact: Media Relations
(404) 639-3286  

Today, CDC Principal Deputy Director Nirav D. Shah met with state health officials, public health emergency preparedness directors, state epidemiologists, and state public health veterinarians, and leadership from public health partner organizations to discuss farmworker protection and personal protective equipment (PPE) for avian influenza.

CDC asked that jurisdictions make PPE available to workers on dairy farms, poultry farms, and in slaughterhouses. Specifically, CDC asked state health departments to work with their state agriculture department counterparts and partners in communities, such as farmworker organizations, that can help coordinate and facilitate PPE distributions. Shah recommended that states prioritize distribution of PPE to farms with herds in which a cow was confirmed to be infected with avian flu, noting that some states have already distributed PPE to dairy farms. Jurisdictions were asked to use existing PPE stockpiles for this effort. Shah also briefed state officials on how to request additional PPE from HHS/ASPR’s strategic national stockpile, if needed.

Although CDC’s assessment of the immediate risk to the U.S. public from avian influenza remains low, Shah highlighted the importance of states acting now to protect people with work exposures, who may be at higher risk of infection. CDC has actively engaged with state and local health departments, farmworker organizations and public health veterinarians since first learning about the outbreak of HPAI in dairy cattle herds. CDC is also sharing information with staff at Federally Qualified Health Centers, who may care for farmworkers to help ensure that these staff are aware of the importance of PPE and the options to obtain it.

Shah reiterated the agency’s commitment to support state health officials, who are conducting the on-the-ground public health response to this outbreak. CDC offers real-time support for state and local public health officials, as well as staff who are ready to deploy within 24 hours, if requested. CDC will continue to provide states with the latest situational information and advice to help support their public health response efforts.


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