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            Bird Flu

Intro

For any flu-like illness, call the doctor at the first signs to see if an antiviral medication should be taken. It may shorten the course of the illness or lessen the symptoms.

Antiviral medications are most effective if taken within the first 48 hours of illness. Scientists are hopeful that oseltamivir (Tamiflu) might be effective against bird flu complications, but not enough information is currently available to confirm this.

For travelers to one of the affected countries where bird flu has been observed, see a doctor immediately if a respiratory illness with fever develops.

Prevention

Get a flu shot: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising that eligible people get the seasonal flu vaccination each year. This shot does not protect against bird flu, but it does add a measure of protection. Someone with seasonal flu who becomes infected with bird flu could cause the virus to mutate into a strain that humans have no immunity against. Practice safe food handling practices: As with all meat including poultry, when handling or cooking, wash hands with soap and water and disinfect all surfaces such as cutting boards and countertops that contact any raw meats. Viruses can remain active in raw meat. Cooking kills the bird flu virus in poultry.

Get informed about foreign travel: The CDC advises travelers to countries with known outbreaks of bird flu to avoid visiting poultry farms or have contact with live animals in food markets. Avoid ice cream or other foods that may have been produced with raw eggs. Do not contact any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. Wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Talk with your doctor about bringing along an antiviral medication should you feel ill with flu. For current travel information and health advisories from the CDC, see their Travelers' Health page

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