How can bird flu be prevented?
The World Health Organization and the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are preparing for the
possibility that bird flu could spread to people all over the world in what is
called a pandemic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
has approved human vaccines to protect against bird flu. But immunization is not
available for the public right now. The vaccines are kept in a U.S.
government stockpile.2 Officials are also storing up
large supplies of antiviral medicines. The U.S. government has also developed a
flu plan. This is a plan to prepare for a pandemic and to make sure that as few
people as possible get the virus.
organizations now require that all infected birds be killed. Some countries
have programs to clean up poultry farms and to check that all birds are healthy
before they are sold. In 2004, the United States stopped buying poultry from
most Asian countries.
Even though there is a lot of
talk about bird flu, most people in the United States don't have to worry about
getting it. As of April 2012, no cases of bird flu in humans had been found
in the U.S. But you can take steps to lower your chances of getting
- If you live in an area with bird flu, or if you are traveling to
a country where there is bird flu:
- Avoid poultry farms, poultry-processing factories or plants,
and close contact with chickens, turkeys, or ducks.
- Stay away from open-air markets where live birds are
- If you are traveling to a country where there is bird flu, ask your
doctor about getting a regular flu shot. It is best
to do this at least 2 weeks before you leave. This will not prevent bird flu,
but it may help you avoid getting the regular flu.
- Keep your hands clean by
washing them often with soap and warm water or using a
hand gel that kills germs. If you use a hand gel, be sure to buy only gels made
with alcohol. They do the best job of cleaning your hands.
- Do not eat raw or poorly cooked eggs or poultry. But you can
safely eat fully cooked eggs and fully cooked chicken, duck, and turkey,
because heat kills the virus.