In the News: Public Health’s efforts to reduce H5N1 risk

Dr. Rudman highlights monitoring wastewater for H5N1 bird flu with SF Chronicle

The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department is monitoring a multi-state outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in dairy cows in the United States. Along with sharing information with agricultural workers on how to identify sick animals and protect themselves from infection, Public Health is using wastewater monitoring tools to reduce risk in the community.
 

What to know about H5N1 bird flu

 
In response to recent wastewater flu activity in the Gilroy sewershed, the Public Health Department has obtained further wastewater testing and no H5N1 bird flu was detected in samples from that sewershed between February 2, 2024, and May 6, 2024.

Dr. Sarah Rudman, Deputy Health Officer at County of Santa Clara Public Health Department spoke with San Francisco Chronicle reporter Catherine Ho:

“Having the ability to keep close eyes on the fluctuations (in wastewater) and follow up and do testing to say, ‘Is this a new threat or seasonal flu?’ was incredibly valuable to know the level of concern of the community right now,” Dr. Rudman said.

flu, RSV, dashboard

Source: Screenshot of Public Health’s influenza wastewater dashboard showing the fluctuation of Influenza A in the GIlroy sewershed. (5/20/24)
 

Dr. Rudman also discussed the potential impact of the proposed state budget from California Governor Gavin Newsom that would include millions of dollars in cuts to key public health funding.

“It was disappointing to understand the governor’s proposed budget cuts one of the most vital and flexible funding sources we use for this work,” Rudman said. “We’re keeping a close eye on what’s happening with the governor’s budget, given my deep concern that the resources we rely on to do this work are on the chopping block.”

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