Avoid Getting Bird Flu

By: rickstooker
There's a new and so far little-known way to catch bird flu.

By water.

One major outbreak of bird flu among wild birds occurred in the middle of 2005 around Qinghai Lake, in China. Recently, wild birds in that area have again tested positive for H5N1.

Some experts believe that these wild birds caught the virus from the many fish farms around Qinghai Lake. That's because the fish on these farms are fed with chicken droppings.

The H5N1 virus can live up to a month in water.

So the wild birds may be catching it either from swimming around in and drinking from the fish farm waters or from eating the fish. The fish don't catch the flu of course, but maybe the virus can survive in their bloodstream.

Either way, the wild birds seem to be catching it this way.

One young boy in Vietnam died from catching bird flu by swimming in a section of the Mekong River where a lot of H5N1-infected chickens had recently been dumped.

Hopefully, nobody in the world today would simply dump H5N1-infected chickens into a river, but there're many fish farms around the world fed with chicken droppings.

Hey, it's encouraged by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It certainly sounds efficient, logical and ecological.

What can we do to protect ourselves?

First, during a bird flu pandemic, don't go swimming in public pools. The chlorine added to the water in most pools should kill the virus, but it gets used up as people swim, so that on a hot summer's day there's very little chlorine in the water.

If you do go swimming, make sure you shower before you go into the pool -- for the safety and protection of the other swimmers. Make sure you shower after you finish swimming -- for your safety and protection.

Don't use hot tubs with other people.

Cook fish as thoroughly as you would chicken. You should do this anyway. I don't care if you are a sushi lover -- you can ingest some nasty parasites from eating sushi.

If bird flu is in a pandemic stage or if it's been found in birds in your area, don't go swimming in lakes and rivers. Wild birds leave their excrement in such bodies of water.

If you're hunting or fishing, make sure you wear high, waterproof boots so that you don't get wet.

If you do go swimming (or maybe fall if you're boating) into a river, pond, lake or open water in the wild, don't open your eyes underwater and don't take that water into your mouth.

You shouldn't do that anyway, since such water is always full of various species of bacteria and viruses.

Ocean water should be safe to swim in, unless somebody has recently dumped dead chickens into it.

Don't drink any water from a river, lake or other open source of water.

Water from your tap should be all right to drink. If there's a pandemic and your local water company is short handed, you may want to boil drinking water as a precaution against normal germs.

Septic tanks and other enclosed residential water systems should be safe.

However, if your home's source of water is an open well, you should boil the water. Heating it up to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes should kill any H5N1 virus.

If and when bird flu reaches the pandemic stage, you're most at risk of catching the disease from direct contact with other people.


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Most people don't realize that the bird flu virus can survive in water for close to a month. Wild birds seem to be catching the virus from fish farms fed by chicken droppings. So you must protect yourself from water-bourne bird flu.
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