Checklist on bird flu

Avian influenza commonly referred to, as “bird flu” is also a powerful force of nature that we must prepare for or suffer the potentially devastating health and financial consequences. Bird flu actually began infecting humans in 1997. However, the risk of a bird-flu pandemic has increased dramatically over the years. Many experts and organisations have recently been sounding an alarm to stop people from contracting this deadly disease. Here is what you have to do to remain in the safe parameters.

• Get a flu shot — Individuals who are immunised with the seasonal influenza vaccine are less likely to contract seasonal influenza; this in turn reduces the likelihood of an immunised individual becoming infected with both human and avian forms of influenza at the same time. There is currently no specific vaccine against the avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

• Avoid unnecessary contact with domestic poultry and wild birds —. Avoid markets, where live and slaughtered animals such as chickens and ducks are sold, as these animals have been found to carry the virus. Be aware, as well, that the virus can also stick to hair and clothing, and may be inhaled.

• Follow normal precautions regarding food storage, handling and preparation — People should maintain high standards of hygiene, including thorough hand washing, particularly after having handled eggs or undercooked fowl and egg products and to avoid cross contamination with other food products.

• See your doctor — It’s a good idea to see your doctor before and after you travel for an individual risk assessment.