Avian flu advice for those travelling for Year of the Rooster

Avian flu advice for those travelling for Year of the Rooster

Chinese New Year celebrations take place this Saturday and the Public Health Agency (PHA) is making travellers to festivities in Asia aware that avian influenza is circulating in the region.

Human cases of influenza are being reported in China, and at this time of year are expected to rise. The PHA is reminding travellers to festivities in mainland China, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan of the risks associated with avian flu and how to protect themselves.

Dr Muhammad Sartaj, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said: “We wish all travellers who are going to celebrate the upcoming Year of the Rooster the happiest and safest of travels but would urge them to think before they handle live poultry or wild birds on their visit to Asia.

“Birds can carry a wide variety of avian flu viruses but most of these do not cause human illness. However, human cases of avian flu can occur from certain avian flu viruses, such as H5N1 and H7N9, the majority of which are seen in people who have had close contact with poultry or other birds that are infected with avian flu.

“Although the risk to Northern Ireland residents travelling to the affected areas is low, those who are planning to visit China, Hong Kong SAR or Taiwan should minimise their exposure to birds and take the following precautions:

  • avoid visiting live bird and animal markets (including ‘wet’ markets) and poultry farms;
  • avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces;
  • avoid untreated bird feathers and other animal and bird waste;
  • do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes;
  • do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds; 
  • do not attempt to bring any poultry products back to the UK; and 
  • exercise good personal hygiene with regular hand washing with soap and use of alcohol-based hand rubs.

“Travellers who become ill with mild respiratory symptoms are most likely to have seasonal influenza, a cold or other commonly circulating respiratory infection. However, if you develop more severe symptoms within 10 days of a trip to China, you should contact your GP and discuss your travel history.”

For further information relating to health and travel advice, visit www.travelhealthpro.org.uk