How is Bird Flu Different from Regular Seasonal Flu?
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wed, Dec. 07, 2005
By Francie Wise, RN, MPH
Recently our health information line received a call from a county resident wondering if he could get avian flu from migratory birds.
This and other calls indicate more uncertainty and confusion than usual about the flu. First, some facts:
To return to the caller's question: could he get bird flu from migratory birds? The short answer is "yes." But, it is highly unlikely.
In Asia, millions of birds are infected with the H5N1 avian flu, but only slightly more than 100 people have become infected in the current outbreak.
In almost all cases, human bird flu illness has occurred in families that live among and around flocks of birds or in poultry workers. Therefore, bird to people transmission is difficult and rare, and birds in North America are not known to be infected.
The USDA has banned poultry imports from countries known to be affected by the avian flu virus, so getting the disease here by eating infected bird flesh is unlikely.
It is always important to cook all meat and poultry thoroughly, and to wash hands and utensils after preparing raw meat.
Some additional facts:
For more information about avian flu, visit Contra Costa Health Services Web site at www.cchealth.org or call 1-888-959-9911 or 211. More information is available at www.cdc.gov or www.pandemicflu.gov.
Wise is Director of Communicable Disease Programs and Public Health Nursing for Contra Costa Health Services. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.