10 steps to prevent contracting bird flu

Taiwan CDC lists 10 steps to minimize the risk of being exposed to the H5N6 bird flu virus

Chicken farmer in Kaohsiung

Chicken farmer in Kaohsiung (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- With reports of H5N6 bird flu being detected in Taipei on Friday, and though human cases of the disease are rare, it has a high mortality rate of up to 70 percent according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), therefore it is prudent to take some common sense measures to avoid contracting this deadly disease.

The Council of Agriculture (COA) announced on Thursday that the transportation of poultry will be banned for seven days beginning Friday as a measure to combat the spread of bird flu.

The new transportation ban will not apply to one-day-old chicks, chickens raised indoors and sent to slaughterhouses straightaway, and to eggs washed or sanitized and certified by officially approved veterinarians, the COA said.

To better inform the public, the CDC has provided a list of 10 ways to minimize the risk of contracting H5N6:

1. Maintain good air circulation when indoors

2. Wash your hands with soap
Avoid touching nose and eyes.

3. Develop good personal hygiene habits
Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest.

4. Be sure to cook poultry and eggs thoroughly
Immediately wash hands after handling raw poultry and eggs and thoroughly wash knives and cutting boards before re-use.

5. Do not buy the meat of birds or eggs of unknown origin

6. Do not purchase or feed birds of unknown origin, or smuggle birds

7. Avoid contact with birds and their secretions
If you inadvertently come in contact with either, carefully wash your hands with soap.

8. Avoid poultry slaughter houses, poultry farms, and live poultry markets
Avoid such facilities unless absolutely necessary and wear protective gear when going to such locations.

9. Poultry workers should wear protective gear
During the course of operations, poultry workers should wear protective gear such as protective suits, masks, gloves, shoes, and goggles to avoid infection through direct or indirect contact (such as touching the eyes, nose and mouth). Carry out a thorough cleaning after work is complete.

10. Seek medical attention if you exhibit severe flu-like symptoms
If you experience symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, muscle soreness, headache, extreme fatigue and other flu-like symptoms, wear a mask and seek medication attention as soon as possible. Be sure to inform the doctor of any contact with you have had birds, type of work done and recent travel history to facilitate treatment.

Is it safe to eat chicken?

So far, there have been no known cases of people becoming infected after eating "cooked" poultry products.

However in the case of smuggled food that lacks quality control and supervision of its acquisition, storage, slaughter, processing, and delivery, it is difficult to assess its level of sanitation and safety. Therefore, avoid buying meat sources from unknown origins to minimize the risk of infection.

The CDC has also provided a list of "5 Dos and 6 Don'ts" to avoid bird flu:

5 Do's

1. Poultry and eggs should be cooked thoroughly

2. Wash hands thoroughly with soap after handling poultry

3. If suspicious symptoms arise, wear a mask and seek medical treatment immediately, and be sure to mention any recent contact with poultry

4. Those who frequently come in contact with birds should get flu shots

5. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly

6 Don'ts

1. Don't eat raw poultry or egg products

2. Do not smuggle or buy unidentified poultry meat

3. Do not come into contact with or feed migratory birds or resident birds

4. Do not release birds into the wild or let them roam free

5. Do not go to places with poor air circulation or very crowded areas

If you have further questions about bird flu, go to the CDC website or call the free epidemic prevention hotline at 1922 or 0800-001922