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Bird flu: Avoid undercooked meat, eggs: Experts

New Delhi, Jan 06: Several states from North, West and South India are witnessing a sporadic rise in the cases of Avian Influenza (bird flu). States like Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala have reported close to 25,000 deaths predominantly of ducks, crows and migratory birds.


The news has started to trigger panic among the public. The people, still fear-struck with the Covid-19 infection, are afraid that the bird flu, which is also a viral disease, may turn into an epidemic. However, the health experts have negated such a possibility and advised the public to take precaution and not panic.


Human-to-human transmission


The doctors said that the risk of human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus that causes the bird flu is very rare unless one works in proximity with the infected species of birds.


‘People who work closely with poultry are at high risk of getting the infection. Otherwise, human to human transmission of the H5N1 virus is very rare. Hence there is no need to panic,’ Dr. Harshal R. Salve, Associate Professor at Centre for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) told IANS.


‘The bird flu is detected in sick birds and has the possibility to spread among humans only with those handling poultry or infected birds,’ said Dr. Rajeev Gupta, Director- Internal Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh (Delhi).


Dr. Upali Nanda, Head, Preventive Health & Consultant-Medicine, Medeor Hospital Qutab Institutional Area (Delhi), also said that human-to-human transmission of the Avian Influenza is very unusual.


Public has started to ditch eggs and chicken meat


Meanwhile, the public has started to ditch eggs and chicken meat in fear that it might carry the H5N1 virus and could infect the ones who would consume it. While there is no connection between the spread of Avian Influenza and consumption of eggs, the doctors suggested ditching undercooked poultry products and meat for a while to allay the fear.


‘There is no evidence available that suggests the spread of bird flu through eating meat or eggs. Nonetheless, eating raw meat and eggs should be avoided in the affected region till the incidents come down,’ advised Dr. Salve.


He goes on to add that the public should not let their guards down and continue to follow the safe and hygienic practices adopted amid the pandemic to steer clear from any possibility of encountering the H5N1 virus.


Dr. Nanda said that it is anyway not advised to eat semi-cooked meat and eggs. ‘People can also take extra precaution besides properly cooking the meat and poultry,’ she added.


Other precautionary measures


‘Wash your hands with warm water and soap, especially before and after handling the raw poultry and eggs. Use different utensils for cooking raw meat and make sure meat is cooked properly until steaming hot. Avoid direct contact with live and poultry birds,’ Dr Nanda advised.


She also suggested avoiding visiting live animal markets or poultry farms for now. ‘If need be, wear a mask and gloves all the time. Also, do not go near or touch bird droppings or sick and dead birds,’ Dr. Nanda added.


The bird flu is not yet detected in the poultry birds. The National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, where samples of animals sent across India for detection of diseases, told IANS that it has not found the presence of the H5N1 virus in the poultry birds yet.


The president of Ghazipur Mandi, biggest poultry market in the national capital, also informed IANS that no incidence of the bird flu among chicken meat has been reported in the market as yet.

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High time to take all precautions, we shouldn’t allow situation go out of control: Dr Naveed Nazir

Says over 100 beds available with oxygen facility at CD hospital almost full, have ventilators as backup, one more oxygen plant coming up this month; Covid vaccine prevents severity among patients

(Asian News Hub) – Kashmir’s top medico and the frontline Covid warrior Dr Naveed Nazir Monday said that it’s high time for the people to take all precautions to prevent the spread of Covid=19 pandemic and that the situation shouldn’t be allowed to go out of control.

Head of Department at Chest Diseases Hospital Dalgate, Srinagar, Dr Naveed said that the situation shouldn’t be allowed to go out of control and people should take all precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We had been stating that Covid is here and it has not gone away. One thing that needs to be hailed is that people have started following SoPs. There is hardly anyone who doesn’t wear a mask. This is a good sign,” he said, adding that “we must strictly follow SoPs and contain the situation.”

About the present position at CD hospital, one of the premier hospitals dealing with the Covid positive patients, Dr Naveed said that there are over 100 beds available for the virus affected patients and almost there is 90 per cent occupancy. “We are not admitting patients with mild symptoms and they are asked to go for home isolation. At present all our beds are almost full. We have oxygen facility at all the beds and have ventilators as a backup as well. We also have 50 more beds available as a backup at a nursing home,” the leading medico said. He said that all the cases admitted at CD hospital are severe cases who need oxygen and injectable.

Dr Naveed was speaking after attending a meeting convened by the SMC Mayor Junaid Matoo to take stock of the preparations to deal with the situation that has arisen after a huge spike in Covid positive cases in Kashmir. Over 1500 positive cases were reported in J&K UT on Sunday, highest in the past six months. He said that there is no shortage of oxygen in Srinagar and one more oxygen plant is coming up in the city this month.

Dr Naveed, who is a frontline Covid warrior, said that SMHS and other hospitals have also been designated as Covid hospitals “but people shouldn’t allow the situation to go out of control and stick to Covid protocols strictly.”

About the Covid vaccine, he said that there are some cases who have tested positive even after taking the Covid vaccine, but that is obvious as the vaccine takes at least three weeks to adjust in the body. “Its efficacy too isn’t 100 percent but it has surely helped to prevent the severity in the patients who test positive, which is significant. People must take Covid vaccines as it helps to prevent mortality,” he said.

KNO

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AstraZeneca could have COVID-19 vaccine against variant by end of 2021

(Asian News Hub) – A modified version of AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine tailored to combat a coronavirus variant first documented in South Africa could be ready by the end of 2021, an AstraZeneca official in Austria said in an interview published on Sunday.

Sarah Walters, AstraZeneca’s Austria country manager, told the Kurier newspaper that studies, so far, indicating the existing AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the more infectious variant first documented in South Africa were “too small to draw final conclusions”.

“In the meantime, AstraZeneca and Oxford University have started on modifications to the vaccine for the South African variant and we expect it will be ready by the end of the year, should it be needed,” Walters told the Kurier.

Walters blamed challenges – including delivery delays for the AstraZeneca shot in the European Union – on the “complex process” of producing a vaccine, coupled with the extremely high demand arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had to work without keeping a supply in reserve. As a result, we couldn’t make up for unexpected events,” she said. “We are confident that we will fulfill our commitment to deliver 300 million doses to the European Union this year.”

The Kurier interview did not directly address ongoing investigations into health concerns over the AstraZeneca shot. The EU has put a warning label on the vaccine over its possible linkage to extremely rare blood clots, Denmark has completely halted use of the vaccine and Britain has advised people under 30 to get another brand of vaccine.

Asked about “thousands” of people in Austria who are cancelling their appointments for AstraZeneca shots, Walters said the company’s plan was “to continue to transparently provide information about efficacy and safety to doctors, so that they can adequately inform people” of benefits and risks.

British and European Union medicine regulators have said that the overall benefits of using the vaccine outweigh any risks of rare clotting.

Reuters

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N95 masks are a must as COVID-19 spreads via airborne transmission too: AIIMS Chief

(Asian News Hub) – AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria said on Sunday that the fact that coronavirus can be transmitted through aerosols makes it more contagious since these are much smaller and lighter particles than droplets.

Because of their small size, aerosols can hang in the air and travel a distance of even up to 10 metres. He emphasised the need to use N95 masks for staying safe from the deadly disease.

Until now the emphasis has been that coronavirus is transmitted predominantly through droplets while coughing or sneezing. However, a study published in the reputed British medical journal The Lancet this week concludes that coronavirus spreads predominantly through airborne transmission.

Since the disease is airborne a social distance of 3 metres is not enough to keep you safe and you can get infected even after a person has left the immediate vicinity as the virus could be lingering in the air.

Speaking on NDTV, Dr Guleria said the debate of droplets versus aerosols has been going on for the last eight or nine months but the fact that the disease can be transmitted through aerosols which can travel through longer distances in the air makes the disease more contagious.

He said the virus from an infected person can linger in the air for much longer when it is carried in aerosols as these are much smaller particles than droplets which drop to the ground in the immediate vicinity.
Thus while a social distance of 3 metres is enough in the case of droplets, when it comes to aerosols the distance which the virus can travel could go up to 10 metres.

He said it is essential, therefore, to keep all rooms well ventilated so that aerosols are not left hanging in the air. The doors and windows of a room should be kept open, he added.

Guleria also said that meetings should not be held in closed rooms as if there is an infected person he can leave aerosols in the air. These are left floating in the air even after the person has left.

The AIIMS chief said it was also important to wear N95 masks as these can effectively stop the virus. But he emphasised that the mask should be worn properly so that it completely seals the nose and mouth. One must ensure that no air enters from the sides of the mask. N95 masks are a must.

He also said that in the case of a surgical mask or cloth masks, which are not as effective as N95 masks, wearing two masks helps as this provides a double layer of protection.

But if it is an N95 mask worn properly, then one mask is enough, he added.

AGENCY

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