At this time there is no H5N1 bird flu in the United States. Individuals who travel overseas, however, are at an increased risk. Please follow these guidelines to ensure your safety:
While traveling outside the U.S.
- Avoid all direct contact with poultry, including touching well-appearing, sick, or dead chickens and ducks. Avoid places such as poultry farms and bird markets where live poultry are raised or kept, and avoid handling surfaces contaminated with poultry feces or secretions.
- As with other infectious illnesses, one of the most important preventive practices is careful and frequent hand washing. Cleaning your hands often with soap and water removes potentially infectious material from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission. Waterless alcohol-based hand gels may be used when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled.
- All foods from poultry, including eggs and poultry blood, should be cooked thoroughly. Egg yolks should not be runny or liquid. Because influenza viruses are destroyed by heat, the cooking temperature for poultry meat should be 74°C (165°F)
- If you become sick with symptoms such as a fever accompanied by a cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing and you have had contact with poultry or contact with a confirmed avian flu case, a U.S. consular officer can assist you in locating medical services and informing your family or friends. Inform your health care provider of any possible exposures to avian influenza. See the CDC Seeking Health Care Abroad in Health Information for International Travel website for more information about what to do if you become ill while abroad. You should defer further travel until you are free of symptoms, unless traveling locally for medical care. You need to inform your airline if you are concerned about having contracted avian flu.
- Travelers' Health Automated Information Line: 877-FYI-TRIP (toll free)
(For information about ordering the Yellow Book and International Certificates of Vaccination and recorded messages on travel-related health topics.)
After your return from traveling outside the United States
- Monitor your health for 10 days.
- If you become ill with a fever plus a cough, sore throat, or trouble breathing during this 10-day period, consult a health care provider.
- Before you visit a health care setting, tell the provider the following: 1) your symptoms, 2) where you traveled, and 3) if you have had direct contact with poultry or close contact with a severely ill person. This way, the health care provider can be aware if you have traveled to an area reporting avian influenza and provide care accordingly.
- Do not travel while ill, unless you are seeking medical care. Limiting contact with others as much as possible can help prevent the spread of any infectious illness.
- Wash your hands frequently and cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
This information has been adapted from http://www.colorado.edu/safety/pandemicflu. For avian flu updates, visit this site and/or the World Health Organization at www.who.int/en.