Avian (Flu) Influenza

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Click on a question below to see the answer.

Is it safe to cook and eat chicken, other poultry and eggs?

Yes. It is safe to continue eating poultry and eggs. 

There is no evidence to suggest that you can become infected by eating properly cooked poultry and eggs.

Proper handling and cooking of poultry provides protection against this virus, as it does against many viruses and bacteria, including Salmonella and E.coli. Safe food handling and preparation is important at all times. Practice safe food handling and preparation every day: 

  • Wash hands before and after handling food; 
  • Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other foods; 
  • After cutting raw meats, wash hands, cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water; 
  • Sanitize cutting boards by using a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water; and  
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure food has reached the proper temperature. Cook whole birds to 180 °F; breasts to 170 °F; drumsticks, thighs and wings to 180 °F; and a minimum oven temperature of 325 °F.

Is it safe to hunt, field dress and eat wild game birds?

Yes! It is still safe to hunt and eat game. However, hunters are always encouraged to wear gloves when skinning and preparing any game meat (this includes birds and mammals) and to cook meat thoroughly before serving it. 

I have a neighbor who feeds and attracts lots of birds/pigeons. Am I at increased risk for the H5N1 avian flu?

No. Almost all human cases of the H5N1 avian flu in Asia have involved poultry handlers that had substantial contact with birds.

There is no evidence to suggest that bird feeding will put you at risk for the H5N1 avian flu. 

Can the health department stop people from feeding birds?

There are no state public health laws that prohibit people from feeding birds. Also, in most areas there are no local/city ordinances that address this issue. Some home owner’s associations have adopted rules that prohibit excessive bird feeding. Consult your neighborhood home owner’s association (if one exists). If bird feeding is permissible, it is still important to be considerate to your neighbors. 

People who do enjoy feeding birds are encouraged to do so in open areas such as parks where the attraction of large numbers of birds will be less likely to upset neighbors. 

My pet dog/cat brought a dead bird into my house. Can my pet dog or cat get sick from avian flu?

  • Dogs and cats are considered to be resistant to avian flu virus. 
  • Illness with the H5N1 avian flu has been reported among domestic and exotic cats in Asia, which is unusual. 
  • If your pet is ill, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis & treatment.
  • Since the H5N1 avian flu virus has not been identified in Arizona or the United States, dogs and cats which may capture wild birds are not at risk for this disease. 

I am feeling sick. Can I be tested for the H5N1 avian flu?

If you are sick, consult your doctor. Testing is available for flu viruses which typically occur during the cold and flu season. 

At this time, testing for the H5N1 avian flu would not be appropriate- except in cases where the patient had traveled to a H5N1 avian flu-affected area of the world, and/or had close exposure to H5N1 infected birds or persons. 

If avian flu is confirmed in birds in U.S. (adapted from N.Y. State Department of Health):

  • This does NOT mean that people will get sick. Bird flu rarely affects humans, because it requires close contact with infected birds. Officials are watching closely for any increase in flu-like illnesses, just as a precaution.
  • There have been no avian influenza cases in people in the U.S.

There are things to do to protect your self. 

  • Don’t handle any wild birds or poultry with your bare hands.
  • Don’t attract wild birds with bird feeders or birdbaths.
  • ALWAYS cook poultry thoroughly and wash your hands and any surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry.

Are my pet birds at risk for the H5N1 avian flu?

At present, the H5N1 avian flu is not known to be here in the United States. Those with pet birds, such as parrots, cockatiels, love birds or budgies should not worry about their pets getting “bird flu” if they have not been out of the country or in contact with birds from other countries.

  • In order to protect your pet birds from other avian diseases, keep your birds isolated from wild birds. Isolation of newly acquired or ill birds from others for 30 days is recommended. 
  • If your pet bird or poultry becomes sick, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis & treatment.

What should I do to protect my workers that have contact with poultry?

To find out more information, please visit the CDC's Avian Flu site.

How are avian, pandemic, and seasonal flu different?

Avian flu is caused by bird flu viruses, which occur naturally among birds. Sometimes these viruses can be transmitted to humans and in rare instances have the potential to cause a pandemic if they mutate to spread easily from person-to-person.

Pandemic flu is a global human outbreak, or pandemic, of serious flu illness that spreads easily from person to person and is caused by a new influenza A virus. Currently there is no pandemic flu anywhere in the world.

Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by human flu viruses which occur every year during October through April during the United States’ “Flu Season.”