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Bird Flu: Don’t Panic. Understand.

Pay no mind to sensationalism. Understanding this situation is far more constructive. So yes, there has been an outbreak of bird flu in South Africa but the frozen chicken products that you find on the shelves of supermarkets are perfectly safe to consume. Global companies such as Cobb Vantress Inc. are largely to thank for this. Their innovative research allows for healthy protein to be available worldwide. Reassured, some? Good. Now for the understanding.

How is the Outbreak Being Dealt With?

A national ban on the sale of live chickens is an attempt to assess the extent of the outbreak. Farms with infected birds are being placed under quarantine and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has asserted that measures are being taken to contain the outbreak; measures, unfortunately, include the culling of infected animals. The department is also tracing the movement of poultry – in and out of farms – in order to establish the source of the influenza.

What has Caused this Outbreak?

It is believed that the outbreak was brought in by birds from Zimbabwe. This particular strain, the H5N8 strain, or Avian Influenza A, may have originated in Europe and likely made its way to Africa via wild migratory ducks. That said, Asian countries and other African countries have also reported outbreaks of this strain.  At the moment, however, containing the virus is more important than establishing its origins.

Is my Health Being Compromised? 

Read carefully; sigh in partial relief: The likelihood of human infection by this strain is low.  Some studies have been conducted on individuals who were exposed to the H5N8 strain and there was no evidence to suggest human infection. Even in the case of infectious strains, human-to-human transmission is rare and the virus isn’t caught by eating fully cooked chickens or eggs but rather by exposure to birds or bird droppings. It is recommended that one avoids contact with birds, washes hands thoroughly and generally follows good food safety and hygiene practices.

Just in Case: What are the Symptoms?

Humans

It is a little unnerving but if one is infected one usually experiences symptoms of regular flu and then the condition worsens. So don’t panic but also don’t regard your cough, fever or headache with gleeful abandon. 

Birds

As for birds, there are also symptoms to look out for to detect the virus. Discolouration of legs, the production of misshapen eggs, a lack of energy and swelling of the eyelids are but a few indications that the birds might be infected. Consult a South African farm directory to find an accredited South African vet and report the infection to the relevant health authorities without hesitation!  Plus, you know what they say about prevention. There are incredible animal nutrition products and services and even vaccination guides out there if you’re wanting to ensure your poultry is completely safe.

Now that you know, don’t you feel better?

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