June 26, 2024
  • Redwood City – In response to the potential for H5N1 infection, also known as bird flu, San Mateo County Health is participating in a state program to provide personal protective equipment to workers on poultry and dairy farms.

    Cases of H5N1 have been detected among birds in the Bay Area, and in other livestock, including dairy cows, nationally. While around the country there have been three recent human cases among workers in close contact with dairy cows, there are no known H5N1 cases in humans or cattle to date in California.

    While the current risk to the general public is low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends dairy farmworkers and others who handle raw milk, as well as slaughterhouse and poultry farm workers, to have personal protective equipment (PPE), including an N95 mask or other approved respirator, gloves, goggles and face shield available in case they are needed.

    Through a program from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), County Health is providing, upon request, a one-time supply of PPE to farms, businesses and organizations that employ or serve dairy farmworkers, workers who handle raw milk, and slaughterhouse and poultry workers.

    In accordance with CalOSHA standards, the use of PPE is voluntary when there are no confirmed occupational exposures to H5N1, but respirators and other PPE must be provided and worn when employees work closely with animals or products that are known or suspected to be infected with H5N1, including animal excretions and other materials that have come into contact with the animal.

    Operators of poultry and dairy farms, as well as community organizations that serve dairy and poultry farmworkers, may request a 30-day supply of PPE for workers at risk by sending an email to County Health at HS_MHOAC@smcgov.org (note the underscore: HS_MHOAC). County Health will respond with details about the process for ordering.

    The deadline to place an order is July 9, 2024. The program to order PPE is available only to commercial operators and farmworker support organizations and not to individuals.

    The personal protective equipment is intended for immediate use and to give time to facilities to obtain and distribute their own supplies. The materials cannot be returned to CDPH or to County Health.

    More information about H5N1 from County Health is available here.

    Media Contact

    Preston Merchant
    Communications Officer
    San Mateo County Health
    Press Contact: 650-867-1661
    Press Email: press@smchealth.org