Expert says it is unlikely bird flu will reach Canada

United Nations officials warn the outbreak of bird flu is far from over and continues to spread in Thailand and Vietnam. An expert at The University of Western Ontario says it is unlikely the disease will reach Canada but travellers should take precautions.

Bhagirath Singh, professor of microbiology and immunology, is an expert in infectious diseases and vaccines, and is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Infection and Immunity based at Western. He can be reached at (519) 661-3228 or [email protected]

“There is a low chance of the bird flu coming to North America. However, people who are travelling to regions where there are infected birds should avoid coming into contact with birds, eggs or under-cooked food. They also have to make sure they see a doctor if they have any symptoms of flu when they return.”

“At this point, the transmission of flu from birds to humans is a major concern and recent new cases in family clusters indicate person-to-person transmission might be possible. This, however, has not been confirmed. Researchers are developing a vaccine but it will take some time before it will be ready for human use. Stock piling of antiviral drugs is one way to prepare for it. Until an avian flu-specific vaccine is available, regular flu vaccine may provide some protection.”

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