Avian (bird) Flu
Avian (Bird) Flu
Avian flu, also known as bird flu, has gotten significant attention over the last few years. This focus is partly because of the extreme measures countries in Asia and Europe have taken in an attempt to control the disease (millions of birds have been killed, or culled). Even more importantly, there is concern that a particularly dangerous strain of the virus that is killing birds (and other animals such as tigers) known as the H5N1 strain of avian influenza A virus, has infected and killed a number of humans. Scientists are concerned that the H5N1 strain may change enough to be easily transmitted from person to person creating a virus not seen before in the human population, causing what is known as a pandemic.

Public health experts do not know if the currently circulating bird flu strain (H5N1) in Europe and Asia will cause the next pandemic, but they are watching it very closely. Most human infections have resulted from close contact with an infected bird. There have been only a couple of cases that suggest that the virus was passed from one human to another. What experts do know is that a pandemic of unknown severity will occur at some point in the future, and it?s important that every person do what they can now to be prepared.

? Wash hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food and eating.
? Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve.
? Don?t go to work if you are sick, and don?t send your children to school is they are sick.
? Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, being active, getting your flu shot, stopping smoking if you do so, and get plenty of rest.

For more information, go to www.pandemicflu.gov. For current statistics, visit the World Health Organization (WHO) website at www.who.int.