If you are traveling to an area with bird flu outbreaks, consider these public health recommendations:
Avoid domesticated birds. Try to avoid rural areas and farms in order to lower your risk of coming into close contact with domesticated fowl.
Avoid open-air markets. These are often breeding grounds for diseases. There is direct contact with live animals and a high risk of contact with surfaces that may be contaminated with feces or fluids from poultry or other animals.
Keep your hands clean. One of the simplest ways to prevent infection is by washing your hands. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer because they don't require the use of water, and they are usually more effective than hand washing in killing bacteria and viruses that cause diseases. (For a more detailed Traveler's Health Kit look at the CDC web page)
Steer clear of raw eggs. Eggshells are often contaminated with bird droppings so avoid mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, ice cream, and other foods that have raw or undercooked eggs.
Ask about a flu shot. Before traveling, ask your doctor about a flu shot. It will not protect you from the bird flu, but it can help reduce the risk of simultaneous infection with other viruses.
Plan Ahead. Identify in-country health-care resources in advance of your trip. If you become sick while traveling, a U.S. consular office can assist you in finding medical services. (More information on Seeking Health Care Abroad is at the CDC web page)
Check your Health Insurance. Make sure your plan covers medical evacuation in case you become sick. Information about medical evacuation services is provided on the U.S. Department of State web page, at Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad.
NO HUMAN CASES OF BIRD FLU HAVE BEEN LINKED TO EATING COOKED POULTRY!
HEAT DESTROYS AVIAN VIRUSES!
When preparing poultry:
Wash Well. Carefully wash the cutting boards, utensils, and all surfaces that have been in contact with raw poultry in hot and soapy water. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling poultry.
It is essential to have good hygiene during slaughter and post-slaughter handling of live infected poultry.
Cook Thoroughly. Conventional cooking (temperatures at or above 70 C in all parts of a food item) will inactivate the H5N1 virus. Uncooked eggs should not be used in foods that are not going to be cooked, baked, or heat-treated.
REFRIGERATION AND FREEZING DOES NOT KILL THE H5N1 VIRUS!
DO NOT EAT RAW POULTRY PARTS OR RAW EGGS!
Consumption of any raw poultry ingredients is a high-risk practice and discouraged.
The cooking of eggs as well as the pasteurization protocols used by industry for liquid egg products, such as whole eggs, liquid egg white, and salted yolk, are effective in inactivating the virus.
Separate the raw from the cooked. To avoid contamination separate the raw meat from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. You should not use the same utensils when preparing them and be sure to wash your hands in between handling them.
Tips for Prevention
- Always use detergent when washing anything that may be infected with the virus because water will just help spread the virus
- Bird droppings must be avoided
- Maintain good hygiene and wear protective clothing when going near infected animals
- Protect domestic poultry from wild birds and wash any materials used in the care of these birds
- Workers handling poultry should wear protective clothing and also receive antiviral drugs as a prophylactic measure
- The DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) strategy has been the most successful solution in Italy (where low pathogenic avian influenza viruses occur frequently) since 2000 for distinguishing between vaccinated birds and those with avian influenza, who may on initial examination be indistinguishable in terms of antibodies - it helps monitor health of vaccinated poultry
- A vaccine against bird flu is currently in development but not available
- Current influenza vaccines will not protect humans against bird flu
- People who may be exposed to bird flu should consider getting vaccinated against human influenza viruses to reduce the risk of the two viruses "mixing" to form a new strain
- Vaccination of persons exposed to infected poultry, using existing vaccines against current human influenza viruses, can reduce further infection. (However, vaccinations in poultry alone do not prevent the virus from replicating)
- Two drugs that may be used in the treatment of humans with bird flu are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), which the strain has been sensitive to
- The Federal Government is stockpiling these two drugs so that in an emergency they can be used to maintain essential services, prevent transmission, and provide treatment for people already ill
- Scarce antiviral drugs aren't being currently used in order to prevent resistance
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