The Ministry of Public Health has instructed all provinces to closely monitor any signs of bird flu during winter season and warned the public to avoid contact with any sickly birds.
Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsattayatorn said the latest data from the World Health Organization showed the continuous transmission of avian flu in various countries, both in people and birds. Some countries have been on alert for the infectious disease and have set up infrared scanners at airports and border crossings after a number of related deaths had been reported. Thailand has followed suit, given that the current weather is ideal for the spread of avian flu. Public Health Offices, as well as offices for the Bureau of Disease Control and Veterinary Services, have been ordered to monitor the situation in their respective provinces.
Related officials are to keep careful travel records of people and animals entering the region, as well as any clinical samples for subsequent lab testing. Local officials have also been ordered to look out for suspicious changes in the rate of death or disease in birds, as well as conduct an awareness campaign to ensure cooperation from the public. In the event of a rise in bird deaths, the public have been urged to contact the authorities, so they can conduct lab testing to confirm the cause of death. When consuming bird meat, people are encouraged to ensure the meal has been thoroughly cooked while maintaining proper hygiene. Those in the poultry industry are prohibited from distributing birds which might be sick or have died under suspicious circumstances.
About Bird Flu
Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection that can also infect humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds. H5N1 is the most common form of bird flu. It’s deadly to birds, and can easily affect humans and other animals that come in contact with a carrier. According to the World Health Organization, H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997, and has killed nearly 60 percent of those infected. Currently, the virus isn’t known to spread via human-to-human contact. Still, some experts worry that H5N1 may pose a risk of becoming a pandemic threat to humans.
What Are The Symptoms? You may have H5N1 if you experience typical flu-like symptoms such as: cough, diarrhea, respiratory difficulties, fever (over 100.4°F), headache, muscle aches, malaise, runny nose, sore throat.
What Causes Bird Flu? Although there are several types of bird flu, H5N1 was the first avian influenza virus to infect humans. The first infection occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. The outbreak was linked to handling infected poultry. H5N1 occurs naturally in wild waterfowl, but it can spread easily to domestic poultry. The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird faeces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes. Consuming properly cooked poultry or eggs from infected birds does not transmit the bird flu, but eggs should never be served runny. Meat is considered safe if it has been cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
What Are Bird Flu Risk Factors? H5N1 has the ability to survive for extended periods of time. Birds infected with H5N1 continue to release the virus in feces and saliva for as long as 10 days. Touching contaminated surfaces can spread the infection. You may have a greater risk of contracting H5N1 if you are: a poultry farmer, a traveler visiting affected areas, exposed to infected birds, someone who eats undercooked poultry or eggs, a healthcare worker caring for infected patients, a household member of an infected person
How Is Bird Flu Diagnosed? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a test designed to identify avian influenza. The test is called influenza A/H5 (Asian lineage) virus real-time RTPCR primer and probe set. It can offer preliminary results in only four hours. Your doctor may also perform the following tests to look for the presence of the virus that causes bird flu: auscultation (a test that detects abnormal breath sounds), white blood cell differential, nasopharyngeal culture, chest X-ray, Additional tests can be done to assess the functioning of your heart, kidneys, and liver. If you’re exposed to bird flu, you should notify staff before you arrive at the doctor’s office or hospital. Alerting them ahead of time will allow them to take precautions to protect staff and other patients before caring for you.