Health Department Urges Travelers To Read CDC Update on Bird Flu

DATE: June 29, 2005

Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON - Vermont Department of Health officials are urging travelers to Southeast Asia to read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers Update, issued on June 21, concerning avian influenza A (H5N1). Avian influenza is also known as “bird flu.”

CDC has not recommended that travelers avoid any of the countries affected by the bird flu. However, Vermont health officials have notified the state’s travel industry, clinics that provide vaccinations to people who are traveling overseas, and colleges and universities that may host students from abroad, about precautionary measures recommended by the CDC.

“Because there are confirmed cases of avian influenza, travelers to Southeast Asia should do everything possible to educate themselves about the disease and how to prevent infection,” said Dr. Cortland Lohff, state epidemiologist for the Vermont Department of Health. “Avoid all direct contact with poultry, including seemingly healthy, sick or dead chickens. Avoid poultry farms and bird markets and stay clear of any surfaces that may have been contaminated by poultry, poultry droppings or secretions.”

There are currently no restrictions on eating properly prepared and fully cooked poultry.

As of June 17, 2005, there were 107 human cases of the new strain of bird flu reported, in Vietnam (86), Thailand (17), and Cambodia (4), resulting in 54 deaths. Outbreaks of the flu among poultry have been confirmed in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam during 2005, and in Malaysia and Laos during 2004.

Most cases of H5N1 infection in humans are thought to have occurred from direct contact with infected poultry. Transmission of H5N1 viruses through consumption of uncooked duck blood may also have occurred to two persons in Vietnam in 2005.

So far, the spread of H5N1 virus from one ill person to another has been very rare and transmission has not continued any further beyond one person.

For the full CDC update and the complete list of travel advisories, please visit www.cdc.gov/travel/other/avian_flu_ah5n1_031605.htm

The Vermont Department of Health encourages travel industry professionals, university health officials and travel clinics to print out and distribute the CDC advisory for travelers to Southeast Asia.