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Bird Flu
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Avian Bird Influenza Facts

Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a Type A influenza virus that affects mostly birds and occasionally pigs. The virus can pass from bird to bird when it is inhaled and from contact with infected droppings. Contaminated equipment, infectious particles carried on the feet and bodies of animals, and migratory waterfowl can spread the disease. Since Dec 2003, a highly pathogenic strain has killed dozens of Asian domestic poultry stocks, and several human infections have been reported

According to the CDC, which offers a basic fact sheet on the virus, bird flu is especially dangerous to humans because we lack the necessary immune protections against the disease.

All influenza viruses are dangerous because they are prone to change; the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968 killed 34,000 people in the United States. The World Health Organization's excellent Bird Flu FAQ notes that no human-to-human transmissions have been reported yet.

There's much valid concern about the latest outbreak -- it has spread rapidly and is highly pathogenic.

Travel Tips

  • Always educate yourself about any disease risks in areas you plan to visit (for information about H5N1, see this web page for more information: <http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/index.html>).

  • Be sure your vaccinations are up to date and see your doctor or health- care provider, before travel, to get any additional vaccinations, medications, or information you may need. CDC's health recommendations for international travel to Southeast Asia are provided on CDC's Travelers' Health website: <http://www.cdc.gov/travel/seasia.htm>.

  • Assemble a travel health kit containing basic first aid and medical supplies. Include a thermometer and alcohol-based hand rub for hand hygiene. See this page for other suggested items: <http://www.cdc.gov/travel/other/travelers-health-kit.htm>.

  • Before you leave, find out how and where to get medical care in the country where you are traveling.

  • Check your health insurance plan or get additional insurance that covers medical evacuation in case you become sick. Information about medical evacuation services is provided on the U.S. Department of State Web page titled Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, here travel/tips/health/health_1185.html



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