CDC Advising Travel History to Stop Bird Flu - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/30/04

CDC Advising Travel History to Stop Bird Flu

It is spreading. 10 countries now, all in Asia, are reporting cases of the bird flu, and at least 10 people have died.

So, the World Heath Organization is urging that all sick and infected animals in Asia be killed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus and to keep it from infecting more people. Health officials are hoping this latest outbreak of avian flu or bird flu will be contained with no more than the number of deaths already recorded, and the loss of millions of chickens.

But still, they're not taking any chances. The CDC is advising doctors now to take a travel history of any patient who comes in with flu like symptoms.

"Right now, science tells us human to human transmission is not occurring, but we're very vigilant. We're very respectful of influenza viruses, and we want to be out in front of it if it does happen, so our vigilance is high hopefully this will be unnecessary, but I think that it is the appropriate and sensible thing to do," says Julie Gerberding, CDC Director.

Right now, the bird flu is passed to humans if they are exposed to bird waste. The concern is the virus might change into a strain that could be spread from human to human.

CDC scientists are also working with labs around the world to develop a vaccine in case the virus does jump to people, but that could take months.

At this time, health officials haven't issued any travel alerts or advisories for the region in response to the H5N1 outbreak. However, travelers to countries in Asia with documented H5N1 outbreaks are advised to avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated.

So far, contact with infected chickens has been the only way people have gotten sick. Eating cooked chicken will not make you sick.

It's important to remember that at this time, the virus has not made it to this country, in birds or people. For more information about topics related to travelers' health, you can ( click here ).

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