What to know about new Covid variants and the spread of bird flu and measles


John Yang:

Four years after the start of the pandemic, hospitalizations for COVID are at an all-time low, but there are new variants. Now bird flu is in the headlines. It has been found in at least 36 dairy herds in nine states. But only one human case has been confirmed so far this year.

So, how worried should we be about all this? Caitlin Zetlina writes the popular newsletter, Your Local Epidemiologist, and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in health. So, Caitlin, how worried should we be about bird flu?

Caitlin Zetlina, author, “Your Local Epidemiologist”: Yes, you know, it's clear that it's spreading among cows and other animals, but the risk to the general public is very low. And what this really means is that there is nothing we can do except not touch dead birds or animals, not drink raw milk, and maybe call our Congressman for better biosecurity assistance.

But it's definitely not March of 2020, and it's definitely not January of 2020. But, of course, the situation can change, and usually with an outbreak, it can change very quickly. I believe if we start seeing human-to-human spread then alarm bells should really start ringing for the general public.

Right now it's really an all-hands-on-deck response for public health to prevent another pandemic and focused on protecting the small group of Americans who are at higher risk, and that's dairy and poultry workers right now.

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