Bird flu, or avian flu, 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.
Apart from the use of vaccine, the basic prevention measures towards H5N6 influenza infection should not be forgotten. Basic sanitation seems to be important for prevention of any new emerging influenza infections. This should include the promotion of hand washing and use of face masks.
To reduce your risks of exposure to Bird Flu (H5N6) always ensure:
- If you come into any contact with birds of any type, wash your hands as soon as possible. Use warm water and soap or hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
- You handle and cook poultry safely to kill influenza viruses and ensure your health.
- You wash your hands regularly, particularly before and after handling food
- Meat is thoroughly cooked and piping hot before serving
- You avoid sick or dead birds. Keep away from bird droppings if possible and wash your hands thoroughly if you accidentally touch any.
- If you're travelling in a country that's had an outbreak of bird flu, don't go to live animal markets or poultry farms.
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).