Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bird Flu Outbreak - Iraq

"I've meant to write about bird flu for some time now. When the outbreak in Turkey started in January I had a renewed impetus however my schedule has been all enveloping since the beginning of the year. Because of it's importance both in terms of human health as well as potential impacts on wild bird populations I will devote some time to this topic. This is a significant departure to my usual posts on Iraqi natural history.

With two confirmed deaths, several more reported including one from outside of the Kurdish region there is sufficient evidence that certain precautionary measures should be taken including the slaughter of flocks in areas where bird or human infections have been confirmed and people changing behaviors to limit contact with domestic or wild birds such as the use of a mask when tending flocks in areas where no cull has been ordered and stopping all activities like hunting where a person might handle dead birds.

The large scale cull of poultry will cause significant hardship for those who rely on small subsistence flocks of poultry for food. It will also put a strain on the commercial poultry and egg producers.

The main message is to avoid close contact with domestic or wild birds. Most cases to date of Avian Influenza H5N1 have been associated with this risk factor, especially handling birds that are sick or dead. I'll pull together as much useful information as I can for those on the ground. Worldwide there has been no evidence of widespread person-to-person contact. In January the human disease broke out of East and Southeast Asia when human cases started to be reported from Turkey. Several viral mutations noted in the Turkish outbreak are cause for concern and might make the virus more adapted to humans."
Birdidng Babylon
All you ever wanted to know about the bird flu and were afraid to ask.


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