The avian flu is a virus that is carried by birds, which is why it is also called the “bird flu”. There are many strains of this influenza, but not all spread to humans. Avian flu is present in wild birds, such as ducks and gulls, but also found in domestic poultry such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.
Because this flu is carried by birds, it is best to avoid unnecessary contact with birds whenever possible. Avian flu cannot be caught from eating cooked meat and eggs, so as long as your food is properly prepared you have no reason to fear transmission.
Scientist note that it is not easy or common for humans to catch avian flu. The way that most humans catch the virus is by working in a poultry plant with infected birds. The virus was then passed on to employees that were in direct contact with blood or excrement of infected birds.
Although there is little chance you will catch this flu strain, here’s what you need to know about preventing avian flu:
Limit Contact with Birds
If you feed birds regularly, you can still do so, but make sure you clean hands thoroughly afterwards. Avoid going near dead or sickly birds. If you come into contact with bird droppings wash your hands immediately.
When Travelling, Avoid Birds
If you will be travelling to a country or area that has cases of avian flu, be sure to avoid live animal markets and poultry farms. Do not go near bird droppings and avoid touching dead birds.
Cook Poultry and Eggs Thoroughly
The avian flu virus is destroyed by contact with heat. For that reason, it’s best to ensure you are cooking chicken and eggs properly. Be sure to:
- Clean all surfaces and utensils that have touched raw chicken and eggs, and avoid cross-contaminating germs with other foods.
- Cook all poultry thoroughly and until the juices run clear. Poultry must be cooked until it has an internal temperature of 165 F (74 C).
- Avoid eating raw eggs, and avoid food that contains raw or undercooked eggs.
Maintain Good Health Practices
If you want to avoid getting any type of flu, it is best to:
- Wash your hands throughout the day, and especially before and while preparing meals, and after using the washroom.
- Turn away and cough into your elbow when sneezing.
- Dispose of tissues after use and wash your hands immediately.
- Get a seasonal flu vaccine.
- Get adequate rest and maintain a healthy diet.
Is there an Avian Flu Vaccine?
There is an avian flu vaccine, however, it is in short supply and has been reserved for use in the case of a major outbreak. However, as long as you follow the above guidelines you should be safe from catching the avian flu.