influenza and monitoring human health
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-- At present, highly pathogenic avian influenza, such as the highly
pathogenic H5N1 strain, is a disease of birds and is not readily
transmitted to humans. In rare cases, it can be spread from birds to
people, primarily as a result of extensive direct contact with raw
infected poultry or poultry droppings. There have been no documented
cases of human highly pathogenic H5N1 disease resulting from contact
with wild birds.
Broad concerns about public health
relate to the potential for the virus to mutate, or change into a
form that could spread from person to person. The U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services is aggressively working with a team of
federal, state and industry partners to ensure public health is
Since February 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention of the Department of Health and Human Services has
provided U.S. public health departments with a series of alerts
providing recommendations for enhanced monitoring for highly
pathogenic H5N1 influenza in the U.S. These alerts, distributed
through CDC's Health Alert Network, reminded public health
departments about recommendations for detecting, diagnosing and
preventing the spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. The alerts
also recommended measures for laboratory testing for suspected
highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.
Eating properly handled and cooked poultry is safe. If highly
pathogenic H5N1 were detected in the U.S., the chance of infected
poultry entering the human food chain would be extremely low. Even
if it did, proper cooking kills this virus just as it does many
other disease organisms and parasites. Poultry products imported to
the U.S. must meet all safety standards applied to foods produced in
Wash hands with
warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after
cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, fish and their
juices away from other foods.
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After cutting raw
meats, wash cutting board, knife and countertops with hot, soapy
boards by using a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach in
one quart of water.
Use a food
thermometer to ensure food has reached the safe internal
temperature -- in all parts of the bird. Cook poultry to at
least 165 degrees F to kill food-borne germs that might be
present, including the avian influenza virus.
Guidance for handling wildlife
The Department of Interior's National Wildlife Health Center has
issued guidance to follow routine precautions when handling wild
birds. The center recommends that people handling wild birds:
Do not handle
birds that are obviously sick or birds found dead.
Wear rubber or
disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game; wash
hands with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand products
if the hands are not visibly soiled; and thoroughly clean
knives, equipment and surfaces that come in contact with game.
Do not eat, drink
or smoke while handling or cleaning birds.
Cook all game meat thoroughly -- at least to 165 degrees -- to
kill disease organisms and parasites.
Department of Agriculture news release]