Public Education Materials

+/-  Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza
Avian influenza, also known as the bird flu, is a disease caused by a virus that infects wild birds (like quail, cranes, geese and ducks) and can spread to domestic poultry and pet birds (such as parrots). Each year, there is a bird flu season just as there is for humans, and as with people, some forms of the flu are worse than others.

Avian influenza strains are divided into two groups: low pathogenicity (LP) and high pathogenicity (HP). Low path bird flu has existed in the United States since the early 1900s and is not uncommon. It causes illness in birds and can be fatal to some of them. The low path strains of the disease pose no serious threat to human health. High path avian influenza is more easily transmitted and is often fatal in birds.

H5N1 avian influenza is the high path type of the virus that has been detected in parts of Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. This strain has been transmitted to humans, most of whom had extensive, direct contact with infected birds.

Protecting the U.S.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as a primary safeguard, maintains trade restrictions on importing poultry and poultry products from affected countries. No birds of any kind can be imported from a country where the H5N1 strain has been detected.

All imported live birds are must be quarantined at a USDA facility for 30 days and tested for avian influenza before entering the U.S. This requirement also applies to all returning pet birds with U.S. origin.

The USDA works with federal, state and local partners in the poultry industry to monitor bird populations in the U.S. Surveillance is conducted in four key areas: live bird markets, commercial flocks, backyard flocks and migratory bird populations. Random testing takes place in live bird markets and commercial flocks, as well as any birds that show signs of illness.

The USDA is working closely with these partners, as well as industry stakeholders, to ensure that effective and coordinated emergency response plans are ready should an outbreak of high path avian influenza occur in the U.S.

Food Safety
It is safe to eat poultry that is properly handled and cooked. Low path avian influenza is not transmittable by eating poultry. If high path avian influenza were to be detected in the U.S., the chance of infected poultry entering the food chain would be extremely low.

The key to food safety is cooking poultry to the proper temperature and preventing cross contamination between raw and cooked food. Consumers are reminded to:

  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food
  • Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, fish and their juices away from other foods
  • Wash cutting boards, knives and countertops with hot, soapy water after cutting raw meats;
  • Sanitize cutting boards and other surfaces using a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water or a commercial sanitizing solution
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure food has reached the proper temperature. Cook whole birds, legs, thighs and wings to 180° F, breasts to 170° F; ground turkey and chicken to 165° F and maintain a minimum oven temperature of 325° F.

For more information, download this brochure from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

+/-  Individual and Family Preparedness Information

What can you do to make your family better prepared for an emergency?  Follow these three basic steps, “Make a Kit, Make a Plan and Stay Informed” and you will be better prepared for any disaster that affects your community. 

Make a Kit
You should assemble a kit that contains at least three days’ worth of emergency supplies for all family members. The kit should be stored in a cool, dry place in one or two rugged, water-resistant containers. Individual items within containers should be stored in plastic bags for added water resistance. The kit should be light enough so that a single adult or teenager can easily transport it. It is recommended that your family emergency kit include the following items:

  • Water: One person generally requires at least one gallon of water per day for drinking and sanitation. People should determine how much water they can both store comfortably outside the home and be able to transport to another location.
  • Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods.
  • Disposable cups, plates, and eating utensils or mess kits
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Hardwired telephone
  • First-aid kit and guide
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks to help filter air after an explosion or building collapse
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener if your kit contains canned food
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place
  • Lightweight rain ponchos for each family member
  • Sleeping bag or blanket for each family member Maps and compass to keep from getting lost if evacuating
  • Pencil and paper
  • Prescription medications in child-proof containers for each family member
  • Reading glasses and extra eye glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers for infants and toddlers
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for disposing waste
  • Important family documents such as insurance papers, wills and trusts, deeds, birth certificates, prescription forms signed by a doctor and medical records (to include weights of children under 90 pounds so that health workers can administer medicines in the proper dosage for them, if this becomes necessary.  A completed Name, Address, Phone, Health History (NAPH) Form can be used for this purpose.)
  • Name, Address, Phone, Health History (NAPH) Form (.pdf)
  • Name, Address, Phone, Health History (NAPH) Form en Español (.pdf)
  • Survival reference guides can be downloaded from and are available from various agencies.
  • Checklist of items included in kit

Additional Items to Consider for Emergencies:
Cash or traveler’s checks: While it is not recommended that people store large amounts of cash in their home, traveler’s checks are good options for ensuring that your family has enough currency on hand for at least three days. Adult family members should carry debit or credit cards with them at all times. Change may be necessary for paying highway tolls or can be used for making calls from pay phones.
Mobile phones and chargers or prepaid calling cards: Although phone service might not be available during an emergency, people who have mobile phones should carry these with them at all times and keep all phone numbers for each family member programmed. Each family vehicle should contain a charger for each person’s mobile phone. Prepaid calling cards are a good, low-cost alternative for helping to make sure that everyone is able to make a phone call during an emergency.
Extra clothing, toiletries and cosmetics: Just as if you were planning to travel on business or pleasure, you might want to include these items in your kit. However, they will add bulk and weight.
Fuel: Vehicles should always be kept as fully fueled as expenses allow in case it becomes necessary to evacuate. People should not store gasoline in their home, because this poses a fire hazard. Store an empty, approved gasoline container in your vehicle for getting gas in case you run out – do not keep it filled.
Matches in a waterproof container: This can be a small, low-cost source of heat and light for warmth and cooking in an emergency, but is a possible safety hazard for small children and probably not necessary for evacuating to a pre-determined location such as a hotel or a relative’s home (see Make a Plan, below).

Make a Plan

Your family should have a well-thought out plan for contacting one another during and after an emergency. You should select two meeting places where everyone can meet if you must leave your home quickly. One of these places should be near your home but a safe distance away, such as the nearest major street or roadway corner. The second place is somewhere you would go if a disaster makes it impossible for you to return to the area where you live. This could be the home of a friend or relative in another part of town or a nearby town.
Next, you should ask someone to serve as a contact person, such as an out-of-town relative. Every family member should be able to reach this person by phone and should contact them as soon as possible if an emergency occurs. The designated contact person should be given contact information for all family members.
If family members have mobile phones, the number for the emergency contact person should be programmed into everyone’s phone, along with those of each family member. Each phone should have a travel charger or extra battery. Of course, there are costs associated with mobile phones and not all children may be responsible enough to carry them. Prepaid phone cards are a good, low-cost alternative to mobile phones. These cards can be purchased at almost any retail or convenience store. Important contact information can then be written down for family members to carry in their wallets or purses along with their card.

Stay Informed
Keep informed of world events and monitor your local television and radio stations to obtain official information during an emergency. Be alert and promptly notify law enforcement of any suspicious activity you might observe. Purchase a NOAA Weather Alert radio, which will provide information not only about weather emergencies, but any widespread emergency affecting your community. Additional information may be found at

Additional Resources

+/-  Pandemic Influenza Information

What is Pandemic Influenza?
Pandemic influenza is a worldwide outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza A virus to which people have little or no immunity appears in humans then spreads easily from person to person. The symptoms of such a virus would probably be similar to those of seasonal influenza, but the duration and/or severity of the symptoms might be different.

The virus would spread the same way as a seasonal influenza virus. The prevention and treatment measures for such a virus would also be the same as for seasonal influenza. The H5N1 "bird flu" is one virus that could potentially cause a pandemic. Any one of several other new or unusual strains of influenza could also cause a pandemic.

Three major influenza pandemics swept the globe during the 20th century causing millions of deaths. No one knows when the next pandemic may strike or which variation of the influenza virus it will be. Efforts are underway to combat the serious impact a pandemic could have on Kansans.

How Are Pandemic, Avian and Seasonal Flu Different?
Pandemic Flu:
Pandemic influenza is a worldwide outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza A virus to which people have little or no immunity appears in humans then spreads easily from person to person.  Currently, there is no pandemic flu or influenza.

Avian Flu:
Avian or “bird flu” is caused by avian influenza viruses, which occur naturally among birds.

Seasonal Flu:
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness cause by influenza viruses.  In Kansas, the peak of the season is generally January or February.  Vaccinations are available for seasonal flu in the fall of each year.

For more information on the difference between seasonal flu and pandemic influenza see

The Impact of Pandemic Influenza
If a new and severe strain of influenza A virus were to begin spreading around the world, Kansas would not be spared from its impact. It has been estimated that a medium-level pandemic could cause, in Kansas alone:
                •    2,500 deaths
                •    5,000 hospitalizations
                •    500,000 outpatient visits
                •    1 million cases of illness

It has been estimated that a medium-level pandemic in the U.S. could cause:
                •    89,000 to 207,000 deaths
                •    314,000 to 734,000 hospitalizations
                •    18 to 42 million outpatient visits to healthcare facilities
                •    20 to 47 million people becoming sick
                •    An economic impact ranging between $71.3 and $166.5 billion

Preparing for Pandemic Influenza
When preparing for a possible emergency situation such as pandemic influenza, it is important to consider the basics of survival, including fresh drinking water, food, clean air and warmth.  Since it may be necessary to protect yourself and others from being infected with the virus, you may have to remain in your home for several days.  The checklist below contains items that will be important to your survival and comfort if you cannot leave your home and people cannot enter.

Food and water – Be sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day along with dried or canned food to last at least three days. Grocery stores may not have sufficient supplies or healthy staff to remain open. Remember baby formula and diapers if you have an infant.

Medications, First Aid kit and equipment – If you or anyone in your family must take medications, be sure to have an adequate supply on hand. Keep a First Aid kit stocked with necessary materials and a basic tool kit.

Blankets and clothing – Make sure you have plenty of warm blankets and extra clothing for all family members on hand in case of disruptions in electrical power or other utilities.

Mouth and nose protection – Face masks should be available for each member of the family to prevent the spread of disease. A mask made of dense-weave cotton material that fits snugly over the face and mouth is best. Take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the best fit for children. There are a variety of masks available for sale in hardware stores.

Phone – Make sure you have at least one standard, hard-wired telephone since cordless phones will not work during a disruption in electrical power. Keep a contact list of important phone numbers in your emergency preparedness kit.

Battery-powered radio with extra batteries – Information from federal, state and local authorities will be relayed through the media. A radio will be your vital link to this information.

Flashlight with extra batteries – Stores are now selling flashlights with self-contained kinetic generators. One of these will come in handy if you run out of fresh batteries.

Items for personal comfort – Toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and paste, facial and bathroom tissue will be important to make your time at home more comfortable. Be sure to include items for children such as games, coloring books and other activities.

Large trash bags and ties – Keep a supply on hand to safely store trash and garbage since refuse service may be disrupted or postponed for several days.

Pets – If you have pets, make sure they have current vaccinations and ID tags on their collars. Make sure you have plenty of food, water and litter for them.

Emergency Preparedness Plan – Take the time to prepare a family emergency plan. Be sure to record medical histories, medication lists, and the weights of all children less than 90 pounds. Establish a family contact list of who to contact in an emergency. Don't forget to check on your neighbors or relatives, especially those who are seniors.

Also, here are some simple steps you can take to prepare yourself or your family for pandemic influenza.  For more information on preparing for a pandemic, visit

  •     Individuals/families
    • Learn to control the spread of flu viruses:
      • Wash your hands
      • Stay home when you’re sick
      • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
      • Avoid crowds during outbreaks
      • Get a yearly flu vaccination
    • Participate in emergency preparedness efforts in your community. Contact your county emergency manager, the American Red Cross or your local health department for more information.
    • Remain informed. Pay attention to national and world events, and learn about ways you would receive instructions during an emergency, such as the Emergency Broadcast System. Purchase a NOAA Weather Alert radio, which will provide information not only about weather emergencies, but any widespread emergency affecting your community.


Does a Flu Shot Protect Against Pandemic Flu?
Current flu vaccines will not protect against a new pandemic strain of flu virus.  Because it takes several months to develop and distribute vaccine for a new strain, a vaccine probably would not be available in the early stages of a pandemic.  If a pandemic occurs, it is expected that the U.S. government will work with many partners groups to make recommendation to guide the early use of vaccine. 

Are There Any Other Treatments for Pandemic Flu?
Antiviral medications can be used to treat and/or prevent influenza A viruses. However, flu strains can become resistant to antiviral medications. For example, only one antiviral medication works against the H5N1 Avian Flu virus identified in human patients in Asia in 2004 and 2005. The supply of this antiviral medication is very limited worldwide, and no pharmaceutical company in the United States manufactures it.

2011 Kansas Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has developed the 2011 Kansas Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan. The plan calls for local, state and federal agencies, healthcare professionals, and the private sector to work together in a coordinated effort to maintain essential public services, preserve community health and protect the health and safety of Kansans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pandemic Influenza Plan provides a blueprint for preparing for the challenges that lie ahead for the state and the nation.

For additional information on pandemic influenza, click the links below or visit

Pandemic Influenza Downloads and Links
Kansas Health Leaders, along with experts from around the world, are monitoring developments for a potentially new strain of influenza A that could have a significant health impact on Kansans.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has created this action plan to monitor and protect the public health of our residents if this influenza strain develops into a pandemic influenza threat.



Avian H5N1 Influenza

Pandemic Preparedness

  • Focus on the Flu – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases page on flu includes pandemic preparedness, as well as details on the various ways that the flu virus changes over time.
  • NVPO: Pandemic Influenza – National Vaccine Program Office at U.S. Health & Human Services provides materials on pandemic influenza, including planning documents, historical pandemics, and current defensive tactics.
  • – The official U.S. government Web site for information on pandemic flu and avian influenza.
  • Pandemic Influenza News – CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy) collects news articles on pandemic, as well as other resources.  
  • Pandemic Preparedness – WHO (World Health Organizations) information on pandemic influenza definition, consequences, detection and preparation.