This article was originally written by Sarah K. Jenkins
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Considering the areas most impacted by bird flu are in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, it is advisable to stay clear of these regions. However, circumstances may arise that necessitates travel. In which case, you need to know how to protect yourself in these areas from contracting bird flu.
In general, basic hygiene can prevent a wide array of infectious diseases. For this reason, frequent hand washing is advised to eliminate bacteria and viral components from one’s hands.
More specifically, travelers should avoid any contact with poultry, including those held for agricultural use or wild birds. Any area potentially contaminated with bird feces should also be avoided. Currently, bird flu is only being transmitted from poultry to humans and not from human contact; therefore, you should assume every bird you see is potentially infected, as that very well may be the case.
You should also take special care not to ingest undercooked poultry, poultry products, or dishes made with poultry blood, as the virus may still be active in such dishes.
You also need to avoid contact with sick people or people that are exposed to poultry. This may seem excessive, but the bird flu virus is expected to mutate and be transmitted through human contact. If this were to occur, you could easily catch the disease from someone else. It is better to be cautious and alive than the alternative. Likewise, you may also consider avoiding crowds, as densely populated areas are an ideal breeding ground to spread disease.
If, during your travels, you become severely ill, you may contact a United States Embassy for guidance in seeking treatment and notifying family and friends. Depending on your location, medical care may be limited. Use caution in securing treatment.
Special concern has been shown in visiting Singapore and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve; however, it has been made very clear that Singapore is free from bird flu. Two entities, AVA and NParks, have continual surveillance projects of the reserve and take blood samples from the birds on a regular basis to ensure infection has not occurred. On the same token, it is unlikely a human would become infected by a wild bird, as direct handling is almost impossible. Most of the cases reported have been contracted from chickens or domestic birds. The primary way a human would be infected from a wild bird is through contact with bodily secretions and feces.