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Introduction

Avian influenza (or bird flu) is a highly infectious disease affecting many species of birds, including chickens, duck, turkeys and geese. It can affect commercial, wild and pet birds. There are many types of bird flu, but the type that is causing concern at the moment is the influenza A strain H5N1.

Avian flu passes from birds to other birds and humans by infected birds. All most all the people have contracted the virus following close or direct contact with infected birds. Human to human transmission is possible but only a single case with human-to-human transmission has been reported to date

How can Birds Flu spread to Sri Lanka?

Importation of poultry products (now restricted) and pet birds (banned)
Migratory birds
Travel –( travelling in countries that have had an outbreak.)

How can humans get Avian Flu?

People can catch the disease by being close to live infected birds, including any of the following types of contact: touching infected birds, being in contact with their saliva or fluids from their nose, or being in contact with, or inhaling dried dust from their droppings.

Another source can be live markets where birds are sold in crowded and sometimes unsanitary (unclean) conditions, so avoid visiting these if you are travelling in countries that have had an outbreak.

Current Situation

Birds flu is not detected in Sri Lanka yet.
By the end of December 467 human cases and 282 deaths have been reported in the world due to birds flu.

Signs and symptoms what are the symptoms of bird flu?

The time from infection to the start of symptoms is usually between 3 and 5 days, although in some cases it can be up to 7 days. The symptoms can last for a week.

Symptoms that occur in people who develop bird flu with the H5N1 strain are similar at first to other types of flu. That is, fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and sometimes diarrhoea.

However, the symptoms typically become quickly worse over a few days to include severe breathing problems and severe pneumonia which may result in death.

Prevention and Control

There are many other ways that individuals can protect themselves and others from all types of respiratory disease. For example:

  • practice good hygiene, such as regular hand washing,
  • turn away from other people and cover your mouth with tissues when coughing or sneezing,
  • put the tissues in the bin straight away after use and wash your hands,
  • keep away from public places if you are ill and avoid contact with children or people with underlying illnesses,
  • when attending a medical practice, alert the receptionist to your symptoms so you can be seated away from others and possibly be given a surgical mask

Avian flu is not transmitted through properly cooked food.

Following simple measures taken during cooking can prevent the spread of the disease.

  • Store cooked sand raw meats separately
  • When cooking meat use different utensils for cooked and raw meat
  • Wash your hands and utensils thoroughly before and after handling meat
  • Make sure that meat is thoroughly cooked before serving.
  • Cutting meat in to smaller pieces and cooking in a closed container helps to cook the meat thoroughly.
  • When cooking /boiling eggs doing so until the egg yellow is hard
    Washing   eggs with soap before boiling /cooking

Symptoms of Avian flu in Birds

Respiratory difficulties, swelling of feet, or  around the beak , nasal secretions, diarrhea, poor feeding and reduction in number of eggs produced. Death of large number of birds also can indicate the possibility of birds flu among your poultry.

What can Poultry farmers do to prevent the spread of Avian Flu

  • Rearing the birds in enclosed areas and preventing contact with wild birds
    Safe disposal of bird’s droppings
  • Watch out for following symptoms in birds and inform the veterinary surgeon of the area if you notice any of them in your birds.
  • Keep the dead birds covered and inform the necessary authorities.
  • Covering the whole body including nose, mouth, and limbs before entering the cages where the birds are kept.
  • Wash the body, clothes and instruments with soap and water after working in the poultry farm.

 

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