How to Prevent Bird Flu (Avian Influenza)

Four Methods:Preventing Contracting Bird FluMonitoring for Symptoms of Avian InfluenzaPreventing Your Chickens from Getting Bird FluAvoiding Avian Flu While Traveling

The best way to prevent catching bird flu is to make sure you are not exposed to the viruses that cause it. The vast majority of cases of avian influenza in humans is caused by contact with infected poultry. Birds that are sick or that have died from avian influenza are often covered with the virus. If enough of the virus is inhaled or gets into a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, they will get bird flu. Cases of bird flu in humans are rare, but it is still important to avoid exposure and closely monitor your health if you fear you may have been exposed.[1]

Method 1
Preventing Contracting Bird Flu

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    Stay away from sick or dead birds. Avoid all contact with any bird that appears ill or dead. This applies to domestic birds such as poultry, as well as wild birds. Observe birds in the wild from a distance, and do not attempt to help a sick of injured bird.[2]
    • If you come into any contact with birds of any type, wash your hands as soon as possible. Use warm water and soap or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Do not touch bird excrement. Avoid any surface or material that is has bird excrement on it.[3] If you are walking and realize you have stepped in bird excrement, clean your footwear with soap and water.
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    Report dead birds. Your governments health department or wildlife agency likely monitors bird health in your area. Call a wildlife agency in your area to let them know if you find a sick or dead bird. These reports can be significant, as large numbers of affected will prompt the agency to investigate and ensure an outbreak of bird flu has not occurred.[4]
    • This is especially important if you find multiple dead birds together.
    • Local authorities may tell you to dispose of the bird’s body. If so, do not touch the bird’s body with bare hands. Use plastic gloves or bags to dispose of the body in your trash.
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    Prepare poultry safely. Handle and cook poultry safely to kill influenza viruses and ensure your health. Use different utensils to handle meat before and after it has been cooked. Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after you handle meat. Serve meat that is fully cooked and still hot.[5][6]
    • Ensure cutting boards and other items that touched raw poultry are cleaned with soap.
    • Use a thermometer to ensure poultry is cooked until it reached at least at least 165 °F (74 °C).
    • Cook eggs until the yolk is firm.

Method 2
Monitoring for Symptoms of Avian Influenza

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    Watch closely for signs of illness. If you’ve been exposed to birds that may have been infected with bird flu, monitor closely for any signs of illness. These may include fever and cough, serious respiratory distress and discomfort in your chest, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Quick diagnosis and medical treatment are vital, as certain types of avian flu may lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, mental disarray, seizures, organ failure, and death.[7]
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    Take extreme precaution if you have flu symptoms. Regardless of the type of flu you’ve caught, do everything you can to help prevent the infection from spreading. For instance, cover your mouth and nose and turn away from others when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of soiled tissues immediately, and wash your hand with warm water and soap.[8]
    • Avoid areas or places with lots of people.
    • Avoid kissing, hugging, or sharing any dishware with others.[9]
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    Seek medical assistance. If you are concerned that you may have avian flu, see your doctor right away. Notify the first medical professional or receptionist you see of your concerns. They will seat you away from others and give you a surgical mask to cover your nose and mouth. [10]
    • If you are diagnosed with avian flu, your doctor will automatically notify the CDC, which will provide them with the latest guidance about how to help prevent the flu from spreading.
    • The CDC will also notify other agencies and the World Health Organization about some cases of bird flu, such as H5N1.[11]
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    Consider taking antiviral drugs. Talk to your doctor about taking influenza antiviral drugs to prevent infection. While these drugs are more commonly used to treat different types of flus, they can potentially keep from falling ill.[12]
    • There is a specific vaccine for H5NI, a particularly dangerous type of bird flu. However, it is unlikely this vaccine will be used unless there is a substantial breakout of this virus.[13]
    • The standard flu vaccine will not prevent an infection from bird flu.

Method 3
Preventing Your Chickens from Getting Bird Flu

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    Wash your hands often. Before and after handling your chickens, wash your hands with warm water and soap. You can use hand sanitizer instead, as long as it is at least 60% alcohol. Any clothes, gloves, or tools that touched the chickens or chicken poop should also be washed with soap.[14]
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    Install a footbath outside their coop. Use a footbath each time you enter or exit your chicken’s coop, or other sort of enclosure. Footbaths can be simple plastic tubs filled with a disinfectant designed for use on farms. Cover the footbath when not in use.[15]
    • Place the footbath on a slab of cement or on a pallet. This will help minimize the amount of dirt you track into the bath.
    • Change the disinfectant solution in the footbath daily.
    • Note that the footbath is for disinfecting your shoes, not your feet!
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    Keep designated chicken boots. You should only use one pair of footwear when you’re in the chicken’s enclosure. Do not use these footwear for any other purpose. In particular, make sure that nothing you use that may come into contact with wild birds ever goes into the chickens’ living area. This includes clothing and equipment as well, though boots are the greatest risk factor.[16]
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    Never allow wild birds to get close. Wild birds, including waterfowl, can potentially infect your chickens with bird flu. Especially if you live near a body of water, keep a vigilant eye out for birds that may try to visit your chickens. Wild birds may be attracted by your chicken feed, for instance. Buy props to scare other birds away online or from an agricultural retailer.[17]
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    Isolate new chickens. Keep new birds away from your flock for 30 days. This ensures that they are not sick before exposing them to your other chickens. Keep the new chickens somewhere away from your chicken enclosure.[18]
    • Only get new birds from reputable sources.
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    Store chicken feed safely. You want to ensure you’re getting your chicken feed from a supplier that keeps it clean. Once you have the feed, keep it in containers that prevent other birds, animals, and insects from getting to it. Large plastic bins work best. [19]
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    Report any signs of illness. Call your local wildlife agency if any of your birds become sick or die unexpectedly. They can advise you on how to proceed. If you are unable to reach a local agency, reach out a regional organization.[20]

Method 4
Avoiding Avian Flu While Traveling

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    Eat carefully. Never eat anything that might have raw or undercooked poultry products in it. Do not eat any meat that is still pink, or that is not served hot. Eat only hard-cooked eggs that do not have runny yolks. Never eat or drink something that includes any animal’s blood. Avoid eating from street vendors.[21][22]
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    Practice good hygiene. Keep yourself clean to help avoid catching avian flu. In particular, wash your hands often with soap and warm water. If soap is not available, wash you hands with hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and/or mouth.[23][24]
    • Do not spend time around poultry. Do not visit farms, markets, or other places where birds are raised, kept, or sold. Do not touch any birds, dead or alive.
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    See a doctor if you may be sick. If you become ill at any point during your travels, do not hesitate to see a doctor. Similarly, if you become sick shortly after traveling, see your doctor and tell them about your travels. This is especially important if you had any direct contact with birds that may have been infected with avian flu. Avoid contact with other people until you’ve made sure you do not have avian flu.[25][26]

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Categories: Colds and Viruses