Bird flu vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration has approved one vaccine to prevent infection with one strain of H5N1 bird flu virus. This vaccine isn't available to the public, but the U.S. government is stockpiling it and will distribute it in the event of an outbreak. It's intended to help protect adults ages 18 to 64 and could be used early in such an outbreak to provide limited protection until another vaccine — designed to protect against the specific form of the virus causing the outbreak — is developed and produced. Researchers continue to work on other types of bird flu vaccines.
Recommendations for travelers
If you're traveling to Southeast Asia or to any region with bird flu outbreaks, consider these public health recommendations:
- Avoid domesticated birds. If possible, avoid rural areas, small farms and open-air markets.
- Wash your hands. This is one of the simplest and best ways to prevent infections of all kinds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol when you travel.
- Ask about a flu shot. Before traveling, ask your doctor about a flu shot. It won't protect you specifically from bird flu, but it may help reduce the risk of simultaneous infection with bird and human flu viruses.
Poultry and egg products
Because heat destroys avian viruses, cooked poultry isn't a health threat. Even so, it's best to take precautions when handling and preparing poultry, which may be contaminated with salmonella or other harmful bacteria.
Jan. 26, 2013
- Avoid cross-contamination. Use hot, soapy water to wash cutting boards, utensils and all surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry.
- Cook thoroughly. Cook chicken until the juices run clear, and it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 F (74 C).
- Steer clear of raw eggs. Because eggshells are often contaminated with bird droppings, avoid foods containing raw or undercooked eggs.
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- What consumers need to know about avian influenza. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm085550.htm. Accessed Sept. 23, 2011.
- Stephenson I. Epidemiology, transmission and pathogenesis of avian influenza. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 23, 2011.
- Cumulative number of confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) reported to WHO. http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/H5N1_cumulative_table_archives/en/index.html. Accessed Sept. 23, 2011.
- Key facts about influenza (flu) and flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm. Accessed Sept. 23, 2011.
- Questions and answers about avian influenza (bird flu) and avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/qa.htm. Accessed Sept. 23, 2011.
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- H5N1 influenza virus vaccine questions and answers. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm080753.htm. Accessed Sept. 23, 2011.
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