Wastewater testing finds HPAI H5N1 in 9 of 10 Texas cities

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As many unanswered questions remain about the recent outbreaks of High-Path Avian Flu (HPAI) H5N1 in dairy cattle, researchers are looking at many possible options on how the virus is being transmitted — including wastewater testing.

According to the pre-published results of a wastewater study conducted in Texas by researchers at Baylor University, wastewater from 10 cities across the state was tested. Of those samples, nine tested positive for HPAI.

The specific city names were not included in the study (researchers said these cities’ identities are masked at the request of local public health officials and water utilities), but the geographic spread encompasses areas across the state. In those places, 23 total samples were collected and 19 tested positive. A least one positive sample was collected from nine of the 10 cities where samples were collected.

Here is the researcher’s conclusion:

In conclusion, we report the widespread detection of Influenza A H5N1 virus in wastewater from nine U.S. cities during the spring of 2024. Although the exact cause of the signal is currently unknown, lack of clinical burden along with genomic information suggests avian or bovine origin. Given the now widespread presence of the virus in dairy cows, the concerning findings that unpasteurized milk may contain live virus, and that these two recent factors will increase the number of viral interactions with our species, wastewater monitoring should be readily considered as a sentinel surveillance tool that augments and accelerates our detection of evolutionary adaptations of significant concern.
Virome Sequencing Identifies H5N1 Avian Influenza in Wastewater from Nine Cities
Michael J. Tisza, et. al.

Read the full pre-published study:

Virome Sequencing Identifies H5N1 Avian Influenza in Wastewater from Nine Cities (medrxiv.org)

NOTE: This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review [what does this mean?]. It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.

Marion is a digital content manager for RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel. She started working for Rural Media Group in May 2022, bringing a decade of experience in the digital side of broadcast media as well as some professional cooking experience to the team.
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