PRI Faculty Rachael Piltch-Loeb and Scott Ratzan on H5N1 Communications

Jun 13, 2024 | News

PRI Workforce Capacity and Preparedness Faculty Co-Lead Rachael Piltch-Loeb and PRI Communications Co-Lead Scott Ratzan with fellow CUNY SPH Faculty Denis Nash write in an opinion piece in The Hill about the recent third human case of H5N1 infection in the U.S., emphasizing the lack of systematic surveillance by state and federal authorities, which hinders understanding and controlling the outbreak.

The recent cases of H5N1 infection in the U.S. highlight significant gaps in the country’s surveillance and response efforts. Despite a major outbreak among dairy cows affecting 86 herds across 11 states since March 29, only three human cases have been confirmed, mainly due to the lack of active and systematic testing for H5N1 among humans, leaving the true extent of the outbreak largely unknown.

To address these issues, the authors argue that the government needs to implement ongoing genomic surveillance of the virus, systematically monitor its spread among farm animals, and ensure timely, transparent communication across local, state, and federal entities. Effective public health surveillance is crucial for an informed and coordinated outbreak response, emphasizing the need for clear goals to identify early sentinel events, understand the full scope of the outbreaks, and track the virus’s spread across different populations and geographies.

Read the full article at The Hill.