Bird flu or avian influenza is caused by a flu virus that is very contagious in poultry and water birds. Some subtypes can infect humans exceptionally.
Human infection almost always occurs through close contact with birds, droplets of their bodyfluids or droppings. .
The disease symptoms vary from an eye infection or a mild flu to severe pneumonia.
The risk to travellers is usually low.
Bird flu occurs mainly in China, but outbreaks have also been reported elsewhere in the world.
Avoid contact with birds and poultry
In countries where bird flu occurs:
- Avoid contact with birds and poultry, even dead.
- Avoid markets where birds are traded.
- Avoid places that may be contaminated by the excrement of birds.
Ensure that chicken meat is heated thoroughly (at least 70°C) and cooked through.
Eat only hard-boiled eggs or eggs that are fried “over well”.
Do not eat food prepared using animal blood products.
Wash your hands regularly, especially before meal preparation. Use an alcohol-based gel if soap and water are not available.
Stay away from people who are sick or coughing.
There is no vaccine available. The flu vaccine does not protect against bird flu.