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 Asia, you might want to 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
- 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):
Do not eat uncooked or
undercooked poultry or poultry products in affected areas, including
dishes made with uncooked poultry blood.
- 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
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at
- 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.
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.
- 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.
If you are in a high-risk area
and begin showing possible symptoms of influenza, consult a
healthcare provider immediately.
Do not travel while sick, and
limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent the
spread of any infectious illness.
- 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
Links for More Information
Influenza Resources and Links
Influenza Resources and Links
If you need to find information about Destinations or other Things
Travelers Need To Know, try Googling ThereArePlaces.