Several countries in Asia are currently experiencing outbreaks of avian influenza, or bird flu, with high mortality rates among birds, and poultry especially. So far, outbreaks have occurred in South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, Taiwan, Russia and Kazakhstan where millions of birds have died from bird flu.
Outbreaks of bird flu have now also been confirmed in different European countries. Therefore, travelers should take special care to avoid contact with poultry.
Avoid poultry markets and visits to poultry farms
Under normal circumstances, bird flu presents no risk of infection to humans. Large amounts of the virus are known to be present in the excreta of flu-infected birds. Persons travelling to countries where bird flu has broken out are therefore advised to avoid contact with live poultry – for example at markets where live animals are sold.
Poultry must be well-done
There is no risk from eating prepared poultry as the virus is destroyed when heated. Therefore, poultry should be roasted/fried, until it is well-done, or boiled. The same applies to eggs. Those preparing their own food when travelling in a country with bird flu should observe strict hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently in hot water and soap, or in an alcohol-based disinfectant. This minimizes the risk of infection through food preparation.
Don't take bird souvenirs home with you
You should be aware that it is prohibited to import live birds, poultry and poultry products, eggs and foods containing poultry from the above-mentioned countries. The Danish customs authorities are particularly rigorous in enforcing these restrictions among travelers returning from the affected countries.
Avoid bringing the infection to Denmark
To prevent the spread of infection to Danish birds and poultry, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration urges travelers to observe these guidelines:
- Anyone who has been in contact with live birds or poultry abroad should avoid coming into direct or indirect contact with birds and poultry within the first 48 hours of their return to Denmark.
- Anyone who visits a poultry farm while abroad should wear disposable overalls and footwear and dispose of these at the property. Washable overalls and footwear should be cleaned thoroughly before leaving the property.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect any articles that have been in direct or indirect contact with poultry and eggs, and which by necessity have to be taken back to Denmark.