Wednesday, January 16, 2008

So What About the Avian Bird Flu Pandemic?

The Avian flu does pose concerns for many Americans and measures are being taken as best can be to prevent a pandemic outbreak. What is this flu virus? Who is most likely to get the virus? How can we prepare or prevent contact with the virus?

These are questions that are being asked, and though I am certainly no authority on the subject, here are some answers to the questions I have had that may also be of help to you.

The Avian Flu virus does not usually infect people, though more than 200 human cases have been reported. Most of these cases have occurred from direct or close contact with infected poultry or surfaces contaminated with secretions and excretions from infected birds. So far, there have been rare cases of the virus being spread from person to person, and none beyond one person.

If infected, reports show that with the medications now available that the "influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work." Plus medication may make one feel better, while still being a carrier of the virus. Reports also say that even if a person gets vaccinated, "a person infected with a particular influenza virus strain develops antibody against that strain. As newer virus strains appear, the antibodies against the older strains might not recognize the 'newer' virus, and infection with a new strain can occur."¹ Both methods are unsure at the moment.

Here are some suggested recommendations for prevention:

· Wash your hands often especially after direct contact in public facilities and places.
· Routinely disinfect any direct hand contact surfaces.
· Routinely bathe your pets that are indoor/outdoor animals, and wash hands after contact with them.
· Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry and eggs.
· Even if poultry and eggs are contaminated with the virus, thorough cooking will kill it. If in doubt, use a food thermometer to make sure you cook poultry to a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
· Clean cutting boards and other utensils with hot soapy water to keep raw poultry and any meats from contaminating other foods.

As with any emergency that can not always be known before hand, there are a few advance preparations that can be made to provide safety for your family, especially if there was a disruption in work, school, transportation and services. These are what have been specifically suggested:

· Have an advance supply of foods on hand (several weeks, even several months supply): whole grains and beans, fruits and vegetables (dried, canned, bottled, or fresh in the garden or orchard), bottled water, oil, honey, and some minimally prepared foods such as pasta, protein bars, etc.
· Make sure you have the means, equipment and the knowledge to prepare foods. If you are one who eats out on a daily basis, then this may be a real adjustment for you.
· Have a several months supply of first-aid, disinfectants, paper products, baby needs, feminine hygiene, toiletries, detergents, etc. on hand as well.

Above all, remember that the best immunity comes from eating high quality foods, drinking good clean water, and exercising on a regular basis to fortify and strengthen our bodies to withstand viruses and diseases. We can prepare in many ways, but our best preparation in these situations, come from choosing to be strong and healthy to begin with!

This is my number one reason for my educating people in the areas of nutrition and good healthy habits. If you would like to attend or host a workshop on whole foods preparations and having a sufficient supply of foods for emergencies, please contact me at so you can attend a workshop soon.

For your best health,
Erleen Tilton

¹ See Lysol Germ Protection Center at

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