Monday, March 06, 2006

US troops in Iraq warned about bird flu

The US military is giving special instructions about bird flu prevention to troops and their families in Iraq, including a warning against eating local poultry.
“If you have influenzalike symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) or an eye infection, difficulty breathing, especially after being in contact with potentially infected poultry, seek medical care as soon as possible.”

“Insist that soldiers who are sick get medical assistance. Stay away from others who are sick, but make sure they get care.”

“If you have sleeping cots set up in a tent or building, sleep in a foot-to-head pattern and have maximum possible distance between cots.

“Do not handle sick or dead birds of any kind. … You should not eat poultry originating in Iraq, but if you do, make sure it is thoroughly cooked. Avoid contact with birds of any kind, especially live poultry.” (Stars and Stripes)
So far their are two confirmed human cases among civilians and a number of other suspected cases. No cases are reported among occupying troops. But the security situation is hampering veterinary and health care work in the country:
News reports showing doctors in Iraq being forced to operate in corridors of hospitals are true, [Dr Naeema Al Gasseer, regional representative for the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Iraq] confirmed.

The healthcare system, already crippled by UN Security Council sanctions imposed in 1991, was further debilitated during looting after the 2003 US-led war in Iraq.

The WHO has said that the reconstruction of healthcare facilities in Iraq have been plagued by poor security and civil disorder. (Gulf Daily, Bahrain)
While we haven't heard a lot about bird flu in Iraq, the rumor mill says the US military is "scared shitless."

Just a rumor. But if it isn't true, it should be.