Avian Influenza

Avian influenza (bird flu) is an infectious disease of birds caused by the Influenza A virus. All human cases have been in people who have had very close contact with sick birds. There has been no evidence yet of it spreading easily from person-to-person, and the risk to travellers is extremely small.


Symptoms of avian fever include fever, sore throat, cough, headache and aching muscles. It is believed these symptoms are more severe than seasonal influenza and this disease has a higher mortality rate.


People in areas where there are outbreaks of avian influenza in birds should take precautions to avoid infection.

The following strategies are important:

  • Avoid all direct contact with poultry (chickens, ducks, geese and wild birds), even if the animals appear to be well. Avoid farms and live animal markets.
  • Avoid touching surfaces contaminated with poultry faeces or secretions and avoid contact with fertilizers made from poultry faeces.
  • Avoid swimming in water bodies where wild and domestic birds gather.
  • Do not eat undercooked poultry meat, organs, and blood. The cooking temperature for poultry meat should reach 70°C. Do not place cooked meat on the same surface it was on before it was cooked.
  • Do not eat undercooked eggs. Egg yolks should not be runny or liquid. Raw or soft boiled eggs should not be used in foods that will not be cooked. Wash egg shells in soapy water before handling and cooking, and wash your hands after touching.
  • Hand hygiene with frequent hand washing using soap and water (or alcohol hand rubs) is good practice for prevention of many infectious diseases, including avian influenza. Wash hands after handling all raw or cooked foods.
  • If you think you have been exposed to avian influenza, monitor your health for ten days. Consult your doctor if you become ill with fever and respiratory symptoms within ten days of returning from an affected area.