Florida Department of Health monitors H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China

The Florida Department of Health announced on Wednesday that it continues to monitor the avian influenza A H7N9 outbreak in China and that it is ready to activate its pandemic response team if necessary.

The department would activate the team if the recommendation is given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. While no influenza A H7N9 cases have been reported in the U.S., the department is highlighting CDC guidance for testing and diagnosis of influenza A H7N9 to healthcare professionals to ensure detection of possible cases in Florida.

"Our department is actively monitoring developments in China with H7N9," John Armstrong, the state surgeon general and secretary of health, said. "Florida is ready to respond quickly to any public health crisis."

According to the CDC, avian influenza A viruses do not typically infect humans. China recently reported rare cases of human infection with avian influenza A. Most of the human cases resulted after direct or close contact with infected poultry and were not transmissible between humans.

Floridians traveling to China should wash their hands often or use hand sanitizer, avoid touching live or dead animals, stay away from farms, poultry markets and other animal markets, only eat meats and poultry products that are thoroughly cooked and avoid contract with their mouth, nose and eyes.

If travelers from China become ill, they should tell their healthcare provider about their recent travel. Influenza A H7N9 flu symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and fever.