Eleven states have detected the H5N1 strain of avian flu in mammals since the beginning of 2023, according to the Agriculture Department.
The deadly H5N1 strain has a 50 percent mortality rate among humans and continues to spread globally with health officials watching closely as several cases have jumped from birds to mammals. Mammals, including humans, can become infected with the virus via direct contact, according to the CDC.
The threat of human infection remains low, but the jump to mammals signifies this strain is highly infectious and capable of evolving.
States recently reporting the jump to mammals in 2023 are:
- California detected the virus in a bobcat.
- Colorado, the state with the most mammals infected, has reported seven cases among mountain lions, black bears, red foxes and a bobcat.
- Idaho detected the virus in a red fox.
- Nebraska reported cases detected in a mountain lion and a tiger at a zoo.
- Kansas detected the strain in a striped skunk.
- North Carolina reported avian flu in a black bear.
- Oregon reported H5N1 in a raccoon and among several striped skunks.
- South Dakota reported the virus in a red fox.
- Washington reported a case in a bobcat.
- Wisconsin reported an H5N1 case in a red fox.
- Wyoming reported a case in a red fox.