Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety EH&S Factsheets

Travel Guidelines for Areas Reporting:

Avian Influenza Outbreaks


General Information

Countries continue to report cases of avian influenza A(H5N1), commonly referred to as “bird flu” in their domestic and wild bird populations.

In addition, countries are reporting H5N1 in other wild and domestic animal populations. A small number of confirmed cases of H5N1 among humans have been reported, some of which have resulted in death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the following general precautions for travel to areas reporting outbreaks of avian influenza in humans and animals.

American citizens traveling to or living in H5N1 affected countries should consider the potential risks and keep informed of the latest medical guidance and information in order to make appropriate plans.

The CDC and the US Department of State websites have regularly updated travel related information that should be consulted prior to your trip.

Before You Leave

  • Assemble a travel health kit containing basic first aid and medical supplies. The kit should include a thermometer and alcohol-based hand rub for hand hygiene, along with over-the-counter medications commonly used. Educate yourself and others who may be traveling with you about influenza. Information about influenza is provided by the CDC’s influenza website.
  • Be sure your immunizations are current, and see your health-care provider at least 4-6 weeks before you travel to get additional shots or information you might need. CDC’s health recommendations for international travel are provided on their Travelers’ Health website.
  • Check your health insurance plan or get additional insurance covering medical evacuation in the event of illness. Information about medical evacuations services is provided on the U.S. Department of State site.
  • Identify in-country health-care resources in advance of your trip in case you become ill while traveling.

While in Areas with Confirmed Cases

There are several things to be aware of if you are in an area where avian influenza cases have been reported:

  • CDC recommends, at this time, that travelers to countries experiencing outbreaks of this disease in poultry should avoid areas with live poultry, such as live animal markets and poultry farms and avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with feces or fluids from poultry or other animals.
  • Influenza viruses are destroyed by heat; therefore, as a precaution, all foods from poultry, including eggs, should be thoroughly cooked to 165 degrees F.
  • If you develop respiratory symptoms or any illness that requires prompt medical attention, a U.S. consular officer can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family or friends. See this website for information about what to do if someone becomes ill while abroad.

When You Return

  • Monitor your health for 10 days. If you become ill with fever or respiratory symptoms during this 10 day period, consult a health-care provider.
  • Before your visit to a health-care setting, tell the provider about your symptoms and recent travel so the provider is aware you have traveled to an area reporting avian influenza.

Getting Assistance

For more information about travel to infected areas, consult the websites for the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization, or the US Department of State.