In late December, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed two cases of avian influenza in Guangdong province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Including these two cases, six cases of avian influenza (type A, H5N6, and H9N2 strains) have been reported in 2018, according to Chinese health officials. Chinese authorities have implemented public health measures to limit further spread of the disease.
Avian influenza (commonly known as bird flu) is a communicable disease caused by the infection of a virus found in wild aquatic birds that can be spread to other animals (e.g. domestic poultry). Though seldom spread to humans, avian influenza can be contracted through contact with infected animals or environments contaminated with the virus. Symptoms in humans include eye infection, fever, cough, sore throat, or severe respiratory illness; more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, and even death.
Individuals experiencing the abovementioned symptoms, particularly after contact with poultry or poultry products in affected areas, are advised to seek immediate medical attention. As most cases can be traced to direct or close contact with infected or dead poultry, all those present in China are advised to avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and surfaces that appear contaminated with byproducts from poultry or other animals. Practice good personal hygiene (i.e. wash hands frequently, etc.) and ensure that all poultry or poultry products are properly prepared and thoroughly cooked prior to consumption.
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