The U.S. State Department
issued a fact sheet October 19 to heighten awareness about
the global threat of pandemic influenza and urge caution
for Americans who may be traveling in areas
where avian influenza is widespread among birds.
The State Department has advised its embassies
and consulates to prepare themselves for the possibility
that travel in or out of their host countries might become
unsafe or medically ill advised.
The text of the fact sheet follows:
(begin fact sheet)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
October 19, 2005
This Fact Sheet alerts Americans to the
most recent occurrences of Influenza A H5N1 (avian influenza
strain) in Asia. A number of countries are reporting cases
of avian influenza, commonly referred to as "bird flu"
in their domestic and wild bird populations. The H5N1 strain
of influenza causes severe disease in domesticated fowl.
In addition, there are confirmed cases of bird-to-human
transmissions of avian influenza in the South East Asia
region, many of which have resulted in death. Please visit
the WHO website, http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/country/en/
for the most up to date information on the countries affected
and the number of deaths.
The vast majority of the known human cases
have resulted from direct contact with poultry, and there
is only limited evidence to suggest possible human-to-human
transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Department
are concerned about the potential for human-to-human transmission
of this highly dangerous flu strain, and are working closely
with other partners in an effort to monitor the outbreak.
Concerns about the possibility of an avian
influenza pandemic have prompted international and national
efforts to institute pandemic preparedness measures. In
keeping with the CDC and the WHO guidance, the Department
of State is working with its embassies and consulates worldwide
to prepare in the event of a pandemic. American citizens
traveling to or living in countries where avian influenza
is prevalent should consider the potential risks and keep
informed of the latest medical guidance and information
in order to make appropriate plans.
The Department, the CDC and the WHO have
not issued any travel alerts or warnings for avian flu-infected
areas. However, the CDC advises travelers to countries in
Asia with documented H5N1 outbreaks to avoid poultry farms,
contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces
that appear to be contaminated with feces or fluids from
poultry or other animals. In addition, the Department has
asked its embassies and consulates to consider preparedness
measures that take into consideration the fact that travel
into or out of a country may not be possible, safe or medically
advisable. Specific CDC travel information relating to avian
influenza, including preventive measures is available at
WHO guidance related to avian influenza is available at
A specific vaccine for humans that is effective
against avian influenza has not yet been developed. Based
upon limited data, the CDC has suggested that the anti-viral
medication Oseltamavir (brand name-Tamiflu) may be effective
in preventing or treating avian influenza. Using this input,
the Department of State has decided to pre-position the
drug Tamiflu at its Embassies and Consulates worldwide,
for eligible U.S. Government employees and their families
serving abroad. Tamiflu may not be readily available overseas
and the State Department encourages American citizens traveling
or living abroad that are interested in obtaining this medication
to consult with their physician. There is no provision for
the U.S. government to provide American citizens traveling
or living abroad with medications, including in the event
of a pandemic.
Americans who are planning travel to a country
that has reported the virus or who are concerned about the
Avian flu are advised to monitor the CDC and the WHO web
sites for the latest information.
Additional country information can be obtained
from the Department of State's Consular Information Sheets
and from the Department of State's toll-free number, 1-888-407-4747,
or if calling from overseas, 202-501-4444.
CDC Contact Information:
English (888) 246-2675
Spanish (888) 246-2857
TTY (866) 874-2646
Mon-Fri 8am-11pm EST
Sat-Sun 10am-8pm EST
Address: The Centers for Disease Control
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333
USA (404) 639-3311
WHO Liaison Office in Washington, DC
Telephone: (202) 331-9081
Facsimile: (202) 331-9097
Address: WHO Liaison Office
1775 K Street, N.W., Suite 430
Washington, D.C. 20006 USA
Department of State travel information and
publications are available at Internet address: http://travel.state.gov.
U.S. travelers may hear recorded information
by calling the Department of State in Washington, D.C. at
202-647-5225 from their touch-tone telephone, or receive
information by automated telefax by dialing 202-647-3000
from their fax machine.
(end fact sheet)
For more information on U.S. and international
efforts to combat avian influenza, see Bird