H5n1 Avian Flu Prevention

If you’re worried about contracting the bird flu, there are many steps you can take to help prevent the spread of the disease. Many bird flu prevention steps are just common sense, though many people disregard these crucial preventative measures. Bird flu prevention begins with avoiding potentially infected people and areas, though this may be difficult.

Bird Flu Prevention and Food Handling

Outside of the United States, in particular, it’s possible for poultry (as well as wild birds) to be infected by H5N1. This means that you can contract bird flu by coming into contact with either a live, infected poultry bird on a farm, or an infected bird that’s been killed but improperly cleaned.

When handling live or freshly-killed poultry, help prevent bird flu by:

  • Avoiding contact with the bird’s feces or eyes
  • Not purchasing a bird with drooping feathers or cloudy eyes
  • Only purchasing poultry that has been cleaned thoroughly
  • Washing hands with soap after handling birds.

Even when purchasing poultry from the grocery store, you’ll want to handle the meat correctly to prevent illness. This includes cooking chicken and eggs thoroughly before consuming them, and washing all surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with raw meat.

Heat kills the H5N1 virus; therefore, the bird flu is not considered a food borne illness. This means that eating properly cooked chicken cannot cause the avian flu.

Contact with Live Birds and Flu Prevention

If you have a pet bird, you may want to take additional steps to stay healthy and ensure your pet doesn’t contract H5N1. This means eliminating your pet’s contact with wild birds that may be infected. In addition, farmed birds should not be allowed to co-mingle with humans.

If a farmed bird or pet bird appears sick, contact a veterinarian right away. A sick bird should not be handled by a non-professional under any circumstances. Any bird feces should be handled while wearing plastic gloves, which should be disposed of immediately after use.

Prevention of Flu Begins With You

If any of the following symptoms arise, you’ll want to seek medical attention immediately, since some medication is only effective within 48 hours of contracting the bird flu. Along with the symptoms of the common flu, symptoms of bird flu include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Eye infection
  • High fever
  • Intense nausea
  • Respiratory problems.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Staff. (2010). Key facts about avian influenza (bird flu) and avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. Retrieved April 19, 2010, from the CDC Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/facts.htm.

MedicineNet Staff. (2010). Bird flu (avian flu). Retrieved April 19, 2010, from the MedicineNet Staff Web site: http://www.medicinenet.com/bird_flu/article.htm.

World Health Organization (WHO) Staff. (2005). Avian influenza frequently asked questions. Retrieved April 19, 2010, from the WHO Web site: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/avian_faqs/en/.