Bird Flu Alarm

Preventing Human Infection with Avian Influenza A Viruses

The best way to prevent infection with avian influenza A viruses is to avoid sources of exposure. Most human infections with avian influenza A viruses have occurred following direct or close contact with infected poultry.

People who have had contact with infected birds may be given influenza antiviral drugs preventatively. While antiviral drugs are most often used to treat flu, they also can be used to prevent infection in someone who has been exposed to influenza viruses. When used to prevent seasonal influenza, antiviral drugs are 70% to 90% effective.

Seasonal influenza vaccination will not prevent infection with avian influenza A viruses, but can reduce the risk of co-infection with human and avian influenza A viruses. It's also possible to make a vaccine that can protect people against avian influenza viruses. For example, the United States government maintains a stockpile of vaccine to protect against avian influenza A H5N1 vaccine. The stockpiled vaccine could be used if a similar H5N1 virus were to begin transmitting easily from person to person. Creating a candidate vaccine virus is the first step in producing a vaccine.