Bird Flu (Avian Influenza)

  • Concerned about bird flu? If so, please read on. Ongoing news about bird flu has many people worried. Here is some current information about bird flu that we’d like to share with you:

    • The current risk of bird flu in the United States is low because: There are no known birds in the U.S. with bird flu, (also known as avian influenza.)
    • At some point, birds with this type of flu are likely to fly to the U.S. as part of their usual bird flight, but that is unlikely to happen this winter.

    Bird flu is RARELY spread from human to human. We don’t know if this will ever change. If it does change, however, the potential for a pandemic (worldwide) flu is highly likely.

We are prepared for the possibility of pandemic flu. The North Central Public Health District along with emergency managers, Mid Columbia Medical Center, and other community partners have taken various measures, including:

  • Educating health care providers about Avian Influenza, what to watch for, and how to test for it.
  • Preparing a community-wide pandemic flu emergency response plan.
  • Providing updates as needed to the community via the newspaper and updated Web information.
  • Keeping in contact with State Public Health in regards to dead bird monitoring and response procedures

Bird flu vaccine is not expected to be available, although news about experimental vaccine supply is circulating. By practicing good hygiene, however, you can substantially reduce the chances of getting or spreading germs and viruses that cause influenza and other diseases, including bird flu. Always observe these practices:

  • Avoid any contact with sick or dead poultry. When traveling in countries affected by bird flu, avoid visiting live poultry markets and keep your distance from sick people who might be affected by the Avian Influenza virus.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds after handling raw poultry or eggs.
  • Clean cutting boards and other kitchen surfaces and utensils with soap and water to keep raw poultry from contaminating other foods.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure you cook poultry to a temperature of at least 165 degrees F.
  • Cook eggs until whites and yolks are firm.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm, not into your hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after using a tissue, coughing or sneezing, before preparing food, before eating, and after changing diapers or using the bathroom.
  • If you are ill, stay home. Do not go to work, school, or to community events where you can spread infection to others. Seek medical care if needed.