Beating Bird Flu

Bird Flu has been in Nigeria for a while now; and though it hasn’t generated much fear, ThisDay Newspaper of Friday January 23rd, 2015 edition (page 11), confirmed that Bird Flu is now in Seven States including Lagos and is suspected to be in 140,000 Birds. Here’s what you need to know about Bird Flu and how you can stay protected.

Bird Flu is not a new thing – first reported case was in 1997. It is also known as avian influenza. Bird Flu is of many types but there are 2 major ones that should give you serious concern. There is the H5N1 (which is the one currently in Nigeria) and H7N9 viruses – both of which has led to a number of deaths around the world. The good news is that it is not anything like Ebola. Some “experts” believe it is not easy for the virus to infect humans (if it was that easy, I don’t think the world would be at peace with itself, given the way we reacted to the Ebola outbreak). Yes people have died from it but mostly the middle-aged and the elderly. Children and those suffering from long-term illness are also at a higher risk of contracting Bird Flu.

Bird Flu can be controlled by following some very basic steps which I will highlight soon. Bird Flu affects many species of birds. By birds I don’t mean those that fly in the sky; I am refering to chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. These birds do not always get sick from this infection and so they usually appear healthy which can be tricky and risky for we humans who come in contact with them. 

So what are the signs and symptoms of Bird Flu
1. High temperature
2. Aching muscles
3. Headache
4. Respiratory symptoms like runny nose and/or cough
5. Diarrhoea and Vomitting
6. Abdominal and chest pains
7. Nose and gum bleeding

These symptoms are similar to the usual illnesses we experience in Nigeria such as flu and malaria so please do not panic if you develop any of these symptoms unless of course you have been in contact with birds inareas where bird flu outbreak has been reported. Bird flu is spread via direct and prolonged contact with infected birds, their droppings or secretions from their eyes or respiratory tracts. The good news is that there is no evidence that Bird Flu is transmitted through cooked food, however, I urge you to cook that chicken thoroughly. It also rarely transmits from human to human. 

So what more can you do to ensure prevention
1. Avoid live poultry farms and markets. Yes please. Go for frozen chicken and the likes for now. 
2. Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with bird droppings and secretions. 
3. Avoid touching birds whether they are dead or alive
4. Avoid undercooked birds. Cook them thoroughly. Make sure they are properly cooked and no longer have blood in them. 
5. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands as often as you can or use a hand sanitizer. 

You did all you could to avoid contracting Ebola. You actually did more than was required and you won. So yes you can beat this too.