According to the World Health Organization, as of June 23, 2015, Egypt has reported 167 human cases of H5N1 bird flu since November 2014. This is the highest number of human cases of H5N1 reported by any country in a similar time period. CDC recommends that travelers to Egypt protect themselves from H5N1 by avoiding contact with wild birds, live or uncooked poultry, and body fluids from birds and poultry.
What is H5N1?
H5N1 is a viral disease of birds. People rarely get H5N1, but when they do it usually happens after close contact with infected birds (such as chickens, turkeys, geese, pigeons, and pheasants) or their body fluids. Human illness from H5N1 has ranged from mild eye infections and flu-like symptoms to pneumonia and death. H5N1 does not spread easily between people.
The risk of H5N1 to travelers is extremely low. People who come in close contact with infected live or dead poultry or wild birds may be at higher risk. H5N1 is widespread in poultry and wild birds in several countries in Asia and the Middle East. Outbreaks of H5N1 among birds also have been reported in Europe and Africa. See the CDC Avian Flu website for more information on H5N1 in specific countries.
What can travelers do to protect themselves? Travelers to Egypt and other areas with H5N1 in poultry and wild birds should follow these recommendations to prevent being exposed to H5N1:
* Do not touch birds or other animals.
o Do not touch animals, whether they are alive or dead.
o Avoid live bird or poultry markets.
o Avoid other markets or farms with animals (wet markets).
* Eat food that is fully cooked.
o Eat meat and poultry that is fully cooked (not pink) and served hot.
o Eat hard-cooked eggs (not runny).
o Don’t eat or drink dishes that include blood from any animal.
o Don’t eat food from street vendors.
* Practice hygiene and cleanliness:
o Wash your hands often.
o If soap and water aren’t available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
o Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
o Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
o Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups, with people who are sick.
If you feel sick and think you may have H5N1 bird flu:
* Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
o Tell him or her about your travel.
o Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.