Sunday, November 13, 2005

Warnings of a Flu Pandemic

What is the "bird flu"?
Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them Wild waterfowl can also be responsible for the primary introduction of infection into domestic poultry

How is avian influenza spread?
Certain birds act as hosts of influenza viruses. Infected birds shed virus in saliva, nasal secretions and feces. Avian influenza viruses spread to susceptible birds when they have contact with contaminated nasal, respiratory and fecal material from infected birds.

Is it possible to get the bird flu from eating chicken or eggs?
No -- if the meat is fully cooked. Cooking kills flu viruses in poultry, meat, and eggs. The bird flu virus can survive on raw meat from infected poultry. It is also unsafe to eat undercooked poultry or consume raw eggs. or lightly cooked egg products (such as runny eggs).
Proper hygiene -- hand washing and the disinfecting of all surfaces that come in contact with the meat -- is essential. It is also recommended to avoid unnecessary contact with live poultry. This includes markets where live birds are sold, as it is possible for the avian influenza virus to stick to hair and clothing, and it may also be inhaled

What are the signs and symptoms of avian influenza?
The symptoms of avian influenza in humans range from typical influenza-like symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, viral pneumonia, and other severe and life-threatening complications.

How do you catch bird flu?
People have caught bird flu from handling infected poultry and from surfaces contaminated with poultry feces. There are a few suspected cases of human-to-human bird flu transmission. This happened only after prolonged face-to-face contact. But bird flu has not learned how to spread easily from person to person.

General Advices
• Avoid contact with wild or domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks and geese. Don't go to farms or market places.
• Stop young children from putting contaminated objects or their own fingers into their mouths.
• Eggshells may be contaminated with bird faeces. Wash eggs thoroughly before breaking and wash your hands thoroughly after handling eggs. or as a general rule after handling meat or poultry
• Avoid foods that contain uncooked egg, such as mayonnaise.
• Wash hands, chopping boards and utensils thoroughly after handling raw poultry
• Separate a board used for chopping chicken from the one used for cutting cooked food, vegetables, or fruits
• Cook poultry at high temperatures. Cooking temperatures of 80°C or higher destroy the bird flu virus in about 60 seconds.


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