Avian Flu and Pandemic Flu
This site provides current information about avian (bird) flu
and pandemic flu, what preparations are being made at Butler
University and links to other resources. Consult this site
frequently for updates on avian and pandemic influenza, travel
advisories, Butler University policies, and other information.
Avian flu type H5N1 is a virulent viral disease affecting
poultry and other birds in Asia. It is also called "bird flu." It
has caused a small number of cases of flu and even some deaths in
people who have been in direct contact with infected birds. No
cases of sustained human-to-human transmission have been
established as of January 2006; however, scientists are concerned
that the avian flu virus may mutate and become transmissible
between humans. Avian flu virus has not been found in the U.S.
Every year, usually between December and May, between 5% and 20%
of the population in the U.S. become ill with the flu, or
influenza. This is the normal course of seasonal flu with which we
have become accustomed. It can cause serious illness and even death
in the very young, the elderly and other individuals with impaired
resistance and chronic illnesses. For this reason, everyone should
get a flu shot unless your health care provider advises you
otherwise. See below for more information on getting a flu
In 1918, 1957, and 1968 the flu season in the U.S. was
especially severe, and resulted in a much higher number of
illnesses and deaths. This more dangerous form is called pandemic
flu. Public health experts believe that a flu pandemic is likely to
occur again in the future. Scientists worry that a mutant form of
avian flu, under certain circumstances, could eventually cause a
flu pandemic- although this scenario may never happen.
It is prudent to learn about flu prevention, get a flu shot,
wash your hands often, and follow travel and public health
What is the Flu?
The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by
airborne viruses that spread from person-to-person by droplets from
coughing or sneezing. The period between becoming infected with the
virus and becoming ill is usually one to four days. The contagious
period is three to five days from the onset of symptoms. Symptoms
of the flu, or influenza:
- Fever (up to 104 degrees) and sweating/chills
- Headache, muscle aches and/or stiffness
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting and nausea (in children)
A cold and flu are alike in many ways. A stuffy nose, sore
throat and sneezing are usually signs of a cold. "Stomach flu" is
not really the flu, as there are no respiratory symptoms. Nausea,
vomiting and diarrhea without the fever, cough, aching and
respiratory symptoms is actually gastroenteritis, but some people
call it "stomach flu." This form is caused by other microorganisms
and has no relationship to true influenza.
How Flu Spreads
Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing
and sneezing. They usually spread from close person-to-person
contact, though sometimes people become infected by touching
something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth,
eyes or nose. The virus can live for as long as two hours on
surfaces like doorknobs, desks and tables.
Healthy adults, infected with the virus, may be able to infect
others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five
days after becoming sick. That means that you can pass on the flu
to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you
How to Prevent the Flu
While avian flu is not a risk to you at this time, there are
several things you can do to keep from getting seasonal flu:
- Get a flu shot. When you get vaccinated, it reduces your
chances of getting seasonal flu. Since the flu season can last
through May, even January is not too late to get a flu shot;
however, it takes two weeks after the shot to develop adequate
- Students, faculty, and staff may get a flu shot at Health
Services. Watch for announcements from Health Services regarding
when the flu vaccine becomes available.
- You may also be able to get flu shots with your private doctor
or through a health agency in the Indianapolis area.
- Wash your hands often and well.
Hand washing is effective in preventing the flu, cold and other
infectious diseases. According to the U.S Center for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), rubbing your hands together with soap
and water is one of the most important ways to prevent infection.
Disease-causing germs can enter your body when your unwashed hands
touch your nose, eyes, mouth, and open wounds. Make hand washing a
habit and encourage others in your workplace to do the same by
downloading and posting Indiana's Hand Washing Posters. When soap and
water are not available, use an antibacterial hand cleaner. Choose
alcohol hand rubs with 60 - 95% alcohol (usually listed as
isopropyl ethanol or propanol). Glycerol or other skin conditioning
agents are helpful additives. Read the directions and use the hand
rub appropriately. Never wipe the hand rub off; allow your hands to
air dry. When used properly, these sanitizers reduce the
transmission of disease-causing germs.
Other Ways to Prevent the Flu Include
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
- Cover your mouth with tissue when sneezing;
- Stay away from others if you are sick; don't go to class or
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Get Help If You Are Sick
If you develop symptoms of the flu, contact your health-care
provider. They will advise you what you need to do for your
illness. They may ask you to come to the office to be seen. If
symptoms are severe you may be advised to go to the nearest
emergency room. There may be medications to relieve your symptoms.
Get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, and avoid using alcohol
The flu can be debilitating, causing the person who is ill to be
bedridden for extended periods. Be alert to the well being of your
friends, relatives, and co-workers. Those with the flu may need
assistance in getting medical attention and care.
If you are at special risk from complications of flu, you should
consult your health care provider immediately upon recognizing flu
symptoms. Those at risk include people 65 years or older, people
with chronic medical conditions, or immunosuppressed, pregnant
women, or children.
If You Travel Internationally
As of May 2009 there are no international travel restrictions as
a result of avian or H1N1 flu. If you travel to a country where
either flu is present, avoid poultry farms and open air markets
where poultry is sold for avian flu. Eating pork or pork products
does not cause the H1N1 flu.
The World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC and the U.S.
Department of State issue travel information, alert, warnings and
announcements for public safety, personal security and health
issues. Before you travel internationally please consult the sites
below. WHO, CDC and State Department advisories are updated often
and may differ. When they differ, Butler University recommends
erring on the side of caution by following the most conservative
advice. If an area has a travel advisory or warning in effect, the
safest decision is not to travel unless it is absolutely
For more international travel health information, see:
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health
information and recommendations for travel to specific
- U.S. Department of State Current Travel Warnings
- Currently, WHO does not recommend screening travelers from
countries where avian flu is present
If you have recently lived in, or traveled from, an area where
avian or H1N1 flu is present and you now have a fever, headache,
muscle aches or respiratory symptoms, you should call a health care
provider and ask for instructions. Students, faculty, and staff can
call Butler Health Services at (317) 940-9385 and ask to speak with
a nurse prior to visiting the clinic.
For More Information About Seasonal Flu and Pandemic Flu
Health Services Director
Indianapolis, IN 46208
(317) 940-6403 FAX