CDC gives updated guidelines for handling H5N1 influenza virus

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report on Friday that gives recommendations and guidelines for dealing with the H5N1 influenza virus.

The H5N1 is a deadly virus normally found in birds and domestic poultry. It is rare that the virus jumps to humans, as the World Health Organization reports there have only been approximately 600 confirmed cases of human infections. The mortality rate, however, is at 59 percent.

Recent studies were performed to identify genetic elements related to the transmissibility of these viruses. The studies showed that other subtypes of this virus are transmissible via droplets, causing the CDC to develop new biosafety guidelines for H5N1.

The new guidelines call for specific procedures for people that work with influenza viruses in the H5N1 lineage. A respiratory program should exist for the patient, workers must be vaccinated against influenza, serum samples should be stored according to institutional policies, a licensed H5N1 vaccine should be available to all workers, isolation and antiviral treatments should be administered to workers exposed to the virus and any workers coming in contact with the virus should be entered into a medical surveillance program.

The CDC's new guidelines are meant to protect workers and give them and laboratories safe guidelines so they can work safely with influenza cases.