You may have heard that a case of bird flu was confirmed in Beijing. In fact, it was an 8 year old girl in the very suburb in which I now live. No need to panic – so far transmission has only occurred from an infected bird to a human who handled the bird directly. There is investigation into possible human-to-human transmission, but if so certainly not on any kind of wide scale. Doctors recommend that all fowl be well cooked before eating, same with eggs (no runny yolks) but that’s the only precautions recommended. That doesn’t stop panic, of course.
The family’s ayi here said that we should not eat any meat at all. Not just no chicken – no meat. A restaurant I was at the other day wasn’t seving meat. Yay for vegetarians? The compound guards have called every house to ask if anyone has pet birds. A house opposite ours is home to a western couple with a veritbale menagerie including many birds. Ayi says the birds have all been taken away.
Bottom line – I’m not at all worried. Although I find it curious that when Swine Flu hit in 2009 I was living in one of the biggest hotspots in our part of the country. And now the first Bird Flu case in Beijing happens in my new neighbourhood. Am I a magnet for these things?
Then we received an illustrated pamphlet with information on bird flu – in Chinese. On a whim I decided to translate it – partly out of curiosity, wondering what the “Shunyi District Health Board” and the “Shunyi District Center for Disease Control” were telling the public – and as an exercise for my Chinese. I don’t challenge my Chinese near often enough, so it was like an self-assigned homework project. I learned a bunch of new vocabulary in the process – such as:
禽类 qín lèi – poultry
禽流感 qín liú gǎn – bird flu (literally: poultry flu)
症状 zhèng zhuàng – symptoms
感染 gǎn rǎn – infection
病毒 bìng dú – virus
预防 yù fáng – prevention
呼吸道 hū xī dào – respiratory (literally: breathing track)
口罩 kǒu zhào – face mask
痰 tán – phlegm
疫苗yì miáo – vaccine
宰杀 zǎi shā – slaughter
My favourite part of the pamphlet are two of the illustrations. The first I have titled: “bird flu makes chickens sad”. After youth group on Thursday night a few of us discussed other reasons the chickens might be sad, but you’re probably better off not hearing about that.
The second illustration is the one I have titled: “bloody knife hovers over tiny chicken’s neck”. Why is there so much blood on the pre-slaughter knife? Again, you are probably happier not hearing the youth group explanations of this picture. For some reason the person in the drawing looks like a young boy, although by the sleeve covers I know it’s a working adult (probably a woman).
The title on the front page says:
“Confronting the H7N9 Avian Flu Epidemic:
correct understanding of science and prevention“
I love the illustration – SO like a Chinese public service announcement. Always cutesy cartoons. In this case, apparently the bird flu viruses look something like unshelled chestnuts? The doctor bars the way armed with shield (“prevention”) and sword (syringe). And a boom gate. Always important to have a red-and-white striped boom gate.
There was nothing particularly strange, it was basic information I assume designed to stop panic. There was actually more detail than I had expected. I think they might have placed the “it’s fine to eat meat!” information a little more prominently, though. Below is a paraphrased summary of all the information. For a full translation, see my next post.
- About bird flu:
- Bird flu is a flu that infects birds [funny, that]. H7N9 is a new mutation that first infected a human in 2013.
- We don’t know how you get it. Probably from contact with the fluids of infected birds.
- Bird flu can’t be transmitted from person-to-person. But it has a high fatality rate [yep, those two bits of info went together for some reason].
- Incubation period is probably a week. [We guess.]
- Bird flu symptoms = regular flu symptoms
- If you have bad flu symptoms, go to the hospital and tell them if you’ve been in contact with birds lately, then do what the doctor tells you.
- No targeted drugs, treatment options or vaccine, just regular flu drugs.
- The virus is killed by heat, so as long as meat is cooked well you have nothing to worry about. It’s resistant to cold though so frozen meat needs to be cooked properly.
- Cook eggs well.
- Handle raw and cooked food separately. Wear gloves when handling meat.
- Ways to avoid bird flu: wash your hands, ventilate rooms well, eat well, sleep well, exercise. [I assume they just mean things to keep immune system healthy, but… yeah. Not specific to bird flu!]
- Cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze; wear a mask if you’re sick.
- If you’re old or sick, avoid crowds and unventilated spaces, and wear a mask if you go to hospital.
- Don’t touch birds, especially if they’re sick or dead. [No, really??]
- Avoid wild birds and their habitat.
- If you work with live birds, you should take more precautions than normal people.