H5N1 bird flu spreads to humans when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth or is inhaled from an infected bird or animal. There is no evidence of sustained person-to-person spread of H5N1 bird flu.

While the risk of H5N1 bird flu is low, everyone should take the following precautions:

  • Avoid contact with poultry, wild birds, and other animals that appear ill or are dead, as well as contact with surfaces that may have been contaminated with their feces.
  • Avoid uncooked or undercooked poultry, meat, and eggs.
  • Drink pasteurized milk that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria. 
  • Cook poultry, meat, and eggs to the right internal temperature to kill bacteria and viruses, including H5N1 viruses.
  • Wash your hands and surfaces thoroughly before and after handling poultry, meat, and eggs.

People with close and/or sustained unprotected contact with infected birds or animals or their contaminated environments are at a greater risk of infection. To reduce the spread, those with known exposure to H5N1 virus-infected birds or other animals should isolate themselves away from others and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen. People who work with or have recreational exposures to infected animal populations, maintain backyard birds/poultry, and engage in hunting should consider taking these additional protections:

  • Avoid contact with poultry, wild birds, and other animals that appear ill or are dead, as well as contact with surfaces that may have been contaminated with their feces.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Disposable outer garments with long sleeves and a sealed apron
    • Disposable gloves or heavier work gloves that can be disinfected
    • Properly-fitted high filtration masks such as N95s, KN95s, and KF94s
    • Safety goggles and disposable head coverings
    • Disposable shoe covers or boots that can be cleaned and disinfected. 
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub after contact with birds and mammals.
  • Avoid touching your skin with gloved hands.

Added May 14, 2024