Hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled in the Philippines and Laos after both Southeast Asian countries reported avian influenza (AI) outbreaks.
As the first-ever case of AI in the Philippines, the source remains inconclusive but tests are underway to establish the cause.
This comes following reports of poor standards of factory farming across Asia, with poor standards of food safety, antibiotic use and environmental management in the Asian meat, dairy and seafood sectors.
Bird flu, or avian influenza, is an infectious form of influenza that spreads among birds and in rare cases can affect humans. It usually requires very close contact between the human and infected birds.
The symptoms of avian influenza in humans vary considerably depending on the strain or subtype of the virus involved. Most infections take the form of a flu-like illness (fever, cough, body or muscle pain, sore throat, runny nose). Other symptoms can include conjunctivitis (red, sore and discharging eyes).
China, India, Myanmar, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam have all reported cases of Avian Influenza, as bird flu continues to beset Asia.
How to reduce your risk of exposure to bird flu:
- Following contact with any type of poultry ensure you wash your hands as soon as possible. Use warm water and soap or alcohol hand sanitizers
- Ensure you handle and cook poultry safely to kill influenza viruses
- Wash your hands regularly, particularly before and after handling food
- Avoid sick or dead birds
- If you are travelling abroad to areas that have suffered a bird flu outbreak, such as Asia, avoid live animal markets or poultry farms