Good hygiene helps prevent bird flu
© UNICEF Iran
Washing frequently and cooking properly help to prevent the spread of bird flu
With cases of avian influenza, or bird flu, detected in neighbouring Turkey and Iraq, UNICEF is helping the Government of Iran to defend against the virus.
As yet, no cases of bird flu have been detected in Iran. However, in order to be fully prepared in the event of a case in Iran, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is watching the situation closely and has prepared a series of posters, brochures and television messages to help the public learn how to prevent infection. A Communication Coordination Committee has been established at the national level, with representatives from the MoH, the Health Policy Council of IRIB (Iranian state broadcaster), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“I’m still concerned because we know from other countries that children are very vulnerable once the virus manages to enter a country,” said Christian Salazar, UNICEF Representative in Iran who recently paid a visit to West Azerbaijan. “This is why UNICEF Iran is closely collaborating with MoH and WHO in order to ensure that the population gets the right information on how to prevent avian influenza in Iran.”
As a first step, UNICEF has commissioned a communication assessment to evaluate general public awareness of bird flu, determine levels of knowledge in at-risk areas of border provinces and recommend the most credible and effective information methods and channels to reach the most vulnerable. Based on the findings of this assessment, UNICEF will help the Government to design an effective public information strategy.
Four steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching the virus from birds:
- Keep your children away from all birds. Keep poultry as far away from your living and sleeping areas as possible even if the weather is cold. Children should not help with slaughtering of any animals. Close contact with poultry can put you and your family at risk.
- Take precautions at home. Wash your hands often with soap and water especially after handling poultry and eggs, before eating and after going to the toilet. Buy pre-slaughtered poultry that has been packaged and labelled by secure producers. Use a separate chopping board or knife when preparing raw meat. Do not place cooked meat back on the same plate or surface it was on before it was cooked. Avoid touching live or dead poultry (e.g. chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, quail) or any other wild birds or their faeces. Cook chicken and eggs thoroughly before eating. Don't eat red or pink meat. Make sure the yolk and white of the egg are hard. Keep raw poultry and eggs away from other foods.
- Report sick or dead birds to the local authorities. To stop the virus spreading, it is critical that all sudden and unexplained deaths in poultry or wild birds are reported to the authorities so they can deal with it safely.
- Contact your nearest health clinic. If you experience flu-like symptoms that begin with fever after being in contact with sick or dead poultry, seek immediate treatment from your local clinic.