You can help protect yourself against the flu by making sure you wash your hands properly (and often), working to improve your general health, and getting your annual flu shot.
Get your annual flu shot
Your annual flu shot won’t protect you against H5N1, but it will protect you against strains of “regular” flu that are likely to be around this year.
Getting a flu shot is a good idea, for several reasons. It will reduce the chance that you’ll get sick with ordinary flu and H5N1 at the same time, allowing the two flu strains to mix together inside your body, and create a more dangerous strain.
Getting a flu shot will also help to build a stronger market for flu vaccine, and encourage the expansion of our capacity to make flu vaccine. That extra capacity may be needed if we ever need to manufacture a pandemic vaccine.
Practice good influenza prevention
- Cover Your Cough
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Hand Hygiene
Washing your hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitizers, will help protect you from germs.
- Stay home when you are sick
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
Stay healthy/get healthy
Do everything you can to improve your health. The healthier you are the more resistant your body is to disease. Adopting healthy behaviors such as eating nutritious foods, being physically active, and avoiding tobacco can prevent or reduce the damage done by many diseases, including influenza.
Prepare yourself and your family to cope with emergencies
Getting through a pandemic – or any other major emergency – means knowing what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. It means knowing – in advance – how you will stay in touch with each other. And it means having essential emergency supplies on hand, in case you need to spend an extended period of time at home.
- Family and Personal Emergency Preparedness
Create an emergency kit of essential tools and supplies, for your home and your car. Develop a family emergency plan, including information about how you will stay in touch and communicate in an emergency.
Build your own flu care kit
Keep supplies on hand to care for yourself or family members who get the flu.
- Pain and fever reducer
- Decongestant (pseudoephedrine)
- Cough medicine
- Tea or juice
- Chicken soup
- Throat lozenges (adults and older children only)
Should I buy my own supply of Tamiflu, or some other antiviral medication?
We are urging people not to do that, for a number of reasons.
- There aren’t enough antiviral drugs for everybody.
- Some people won’t need antivirals, and it is difficult to identify in advance those individuals who will need them most.
- To help ensure that antivirals are available for those most in need, public health workers and health care providers must be in a position to manage available supplies of these drugs. That won’t be possible if they are being stockpiled by private individuals.
- Indiscriminate use of antivirals may increase the possibility that the pandemic virus will become resistant to these drugs, potentially making them useless. Some strains of avian flu are already developing resistance to Tamiflu.
- Personal stockpiling may reduce available supplies of antivirals, making it harder to treat “regular” flu in the elderly, and others who face an immediate risk of serious illness and death from complications of the flu.
- The shelf life of Tamiflu is only five years, and no one knows how long it may be before a pandemic occurs.
- At $5 per pill, not everyone will be able to afford a personal stockpile.
Poultry: Should I eat chicken?
It is safe to eat properly handled and cooked poultry. The U.S. government has also banned imported poultry from countries affected by various strains of bird flu, including H5N1.
- Cook to Proper Temperatures
Guidelines to help you properly cook poultry, roasts, eggs and more.
Travel: Is it OK to travel to Asia?
Yes. CDC does not recommend that the general public avoid travel to any of the countries affected by H5N1, but it does recommend that travelers follow certain precautions.
- Outbreak Notice Update: Human Infection with Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus in Asia
If you are traveling to a country with avian influenza outbreaks, CDC recommends avoiding contact with live poultry, and carefully monitoring your health.
- Keeping Yourself Safe from Bird Flu
CDC suggests that you follow certain safety measures if you are traveling to one of these countries to celebrate Lunar New Year: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Thailand, and Vietnam.