Section 1. Avian Influenza Facts

  1. Source and Transmission
  2. Agent Characteristics
  3. Virus Survival
  4. Clinical Signs in Birds
  5. HPAI H5N1
  6. Human Concerns

Protecting Yourself

Keep in mind that human AI infections are very rare and using everyday biosecurity precautions are the first step to prevention.
  • Use gloves when handling sick or dead birds (for greater protection wear goggles and face masks).
  • Avoid contact with droppings and do not touch your mouth or eyes with your hands while working. 
  • After handling sick or dead birds, change and launder your clothes and always wash your hands with soap and water or gel sanitizer when done.7
  • Get your seasonal flu shot. While the seasonal flu will not prevent AI infections, it will help prevent mutant variants from forming. For example, if you are infected with two different virus types, they could combine to produce a more infectious strain. Seasonal flu vaccines are inexpensive and offered at many local clinics and pharmacies generally from October to April.

In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an avian influenza vaccine against one strain of HPAI H5N1 for humans; however, it is not currently available to the public. In the event of a pandemic, the government will distribute the vaccine as needed.

Flu Vaccine
CDC Photo Library: Jim Gathany