Information for People Exposed to Birds Infected with Avian Influenza Viruses
This document provides guidance to local, state, and federal public health authorities on monitoring of persons potentially exposed to avian influenza A viruses during official United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) response activities in the United States.
You are being given this information and these instructions because you were recently around poultry or wild birds found to be infected with avian influenza viruses (“bird flu” viruses). Viruses like these have caused rare, sporadic infections in people in other countries, resulting in human illness ranging from mild (e.g., eye infections, cough, sore throat) to severe (e.g., pneumonia, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing). These viruses have the potential to cause human illness in people who have been exposed to infected birds.
Infected birds shed bird flu viruses in their saliva, mucous and feces. Human infections with bird flu viruses are rare, but they can happen when virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, or is inhaled. This can happen when virus is in the air (in droplets or possibly dust) and a person breathes it in, or possibly when a person touches something that has virus on it and then touches their mouth, eyes or nose. Most often these infections have occurred after unprotected contact with infected birds.
Because human infections with these bird flu viruses are possible, all people with direct or close exposure to infected well-appearing, sick, or dead birds, infected flocks or contaminated surfaces should be monitored for illness for 10 days after their last exposure. State and local health departments are helping to monitor people’s health and you should contact your health department if you get any of the symptoms listed on this fact sheet during the 10 days after your last exposure. By following the instructions below, you can help ensure that you receive prompt medical evaluation, testing, and appropriate treatment if you become ill with signs and symptoms that could be due to bird flu.
Please follow these instructions carefully:
1. Monitor your health for symptoms of avian influenza virus infection.
During and then immediately after your last exposure to infected birds or contaminated surfaces, monitor yourself daily for any of these signs and symptoms for 10 days:
- Fever (Temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) or feeling feverish/chills*
Difficulty breathing/Shortness of breath
Eye tearing, redness, or irritation
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
*Fever may not always be present
You should observe your health daily even if you carefully followed all guidelines and instructions for properly putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) and maintaining biosecurity precautions.
Re-start your 10-day monitoring period from Day 1 if you are around infected birds or contaminated environments again.
Your local/state health department should contact you regarding your exposure. Please follow all additional instructions that are given to you regarding monitoring for symptoms. They may, for example, ask you to respond to a daily phone call, email, or text message with a report on your health status.
2. Call your state/local health department immediately if you develop any illness signs or symptoms during the 10-day observation period.
Your health department will help you determine what to do next.
- Most of the signs and symptoms of bird flu overlap with those of other respiratory illnesses (like seasonal flu or COVID-19). Fever may not always be present.
- If you develop any of the signs or symptoms listed on this fact sheet, immediately call the health department of the state you are in at the time. Your health department wants to hear from you, even if it turns out to be a ‘false alarm’. Your health department will give you further instructions and might ask you to get tested for bird flu virus infection.
- If you have symptoms, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible until the results of your test are known. Your health department might have additional instructions for you as well.
- To test for bird flu virus, a doctor or nurse will collect a sample from you by swabbing your nose and/or throat.
- If you become sick while you are observing your health, a doctor might prescribe an antiviral medication for you that is used for treatment of seasonal influenza. These drugs can also treat bird flu virus infection. It is important to start antiviral treatment as soon as possible and to follow the directions for taking all of the medication that is prescribed. (CDC recommends that clinicians prescribe antiviral medications for treatment of ill persons who had exposure to bird flu viruses and are suspected to be infected with bird flu viruses.)
|Day||Date||Temperature||Signs and Symptoms Write ‘None’ if you aren’t experiencing any of the signs and symptoms.|
Where to Find More Information:
Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636); TTY: 888-232-6348
Bird flu virus infections in humans are of public health concern, not only because of the illness they may cause, but because of their pandemic potential if they were to change to spread easily from person-to-person. Bird flu virus infections can cause a wide range of illness, from mild to severe. Some bird flu viruses have been associated with greater numbers of human infections and more serious illnesses in people and therefore may pose a greater public health risk. More Information on Bird Flu Infections in People