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The Bird flu (H5N1) may turn into the world's next great flu pandemic.  We provide steps that you can take to help avoid contracting bird flu during travel in infected areas.  At present, Bird Flu has only infected those who have come in direct contact with infected poultry.

 

 

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Travel Advice - Steps you can take to avoid bird flu during travel

The Bird Flu threat has lessened and fear of its threat supplanted by concerns related to the H1N1 flu, formerly known as the Swine Flu.  However, Bird Flu has not been eradicated and is currently a problem in India, Vietnam and other countries.  If you will be traveling in the Far East, you might want to read check with the local health authorities and read this article to prepare for your trip.

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is a contagious viral disease caused by certain types of influenza viruses that occur naturally among birds. These viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have recently been reported.

  • These viruses are currently circulating in bird populations in Asia, and have resulted in severe illness and death in humans. Since the recent outbreaks of this strain began in 2004, more than 350 people have been confirmed as infected and approximately 230 of the people  have died.
  • Most human cases are thought to have occurred through contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. However, some scientists worry that if the virus were able to mutate and be able both to infect people and then to spread easily from person to person in a sustained fashion, a global "influenza pandemic" (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin.

 

The following are several measures you can take to help minimize the health risks of  Bird Flu exposure (H5N1 exposure) and infection (compiled from CDC and WHO travelers’ health recommendations):

  • Keep up-to-date on currently infected areas with the links listed below, and watch for special travel advisories from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs at http://travel.state.gov , and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at   http://www.cdc.gov/travel/

  • Make every effort to avoid locations with concentrations of live birds in affected areas, including open-air food markets, small backyard or neighborhood coops, and poultry farms.
    • If you have come into contact with these locations, you should monitor yourself for symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and difficulty breathing, and be in close consultation with a healthcare provider.
    • Check with your doctor to determine whether you can be using vaccinations against regular human influenza in order to help reduce the likelihood of co-infection, and thus reduce the risk or genetic re-assortment.

  • Do not eat uncooked or undercooked poultry or poultry products in affected areas, including dishes made with uncooked poultry blood.
    • Additionally, if possible, practice safe food preparation techniques, such as keeping raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods, washing hands before and after handling raw meat and eggs, and carefully washing all surfaces and utensils after cooking.

  • Practice careful and frequent hand-washing. Cleaning your hands often, using either soap and water or waterless, or alcohol-based hand rubs when soap is not available, helps remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission.

  • If you are in a high-risk area and begin showing possible symptoms of influenza, consult a healthcare provider immediately.
    • However, before you visit a health-care setting, tell the provider about your symptoms, whether you have had direct poultry contact, and where you traveled . U.S. embassies and consulates can provide names and addresses of local physicians.

  • Do not travel while sick, and limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent the spread of any infectious illness.


  • Links for More Information

    WHO Avian Influenza Resources and Links

    CDC Avian Influenza Resources and Links

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