Bird Flu: Turkey

Saturday, January 07, 2006
This is for the folks paying attention to the bird flu cases in Turkey. At this point it doesn't look like human-human contagion is taking place. However, duck hunting next year may not be popular.

DOGUBAYAZIT, Turkey (AP)--Turkey's health minister said Saturday that authorities don't believe bird flu has been transmitted from person to person in Turkey.

"There is no suspicion, for the time being," said Health Minister Recep Akdag, who is traveling to Van, where several cases of the disease are suspected. With him is a six-member delegation from the U.N. World Health Organization.

There are things you should not do:

A doctor said the three siblings who had died most likely contracted the virus while playing with the heads of dead chickens infected with the disease. The children had reportedly tossed the chicken heads like balls inside their house in Dogubayazit, near the Iranian border. "They played with the heads for days," said Huseyin Avni Sahin, the head physician at a hospital in the eastern city of Van where the children were treated. "They were in very, very close contact with the dead chickens."

I believe that in the US most birds are raised indoors; this may turn out to be a good thing, PETA folks aside. It could be that free range chickens/eggs will begin to lose some of their cachet.


In the comments, Skookumchuk posted some interesting links on wild turkeys and food preparation/handling. Executive summary:

• Conventional cooking (temperatures at or above 70°C in all parts of a food item) will inactivate the H5N1 virus. Properly cooked poultry meat is therefore safe to consume.
• The H5N1 virus, if present in poultry meat, is not killed by refrigeration or freezing.
• Home slaughtering and preparation of sick or dead poultry for food is hazardous: this practice must be stopped.
• Eggs can contain H5N1 virus both on the outside (shell) and the inside (whites and yolk). Eggs from areas with H5N1 outbreaks in poultry should not be consumed raw or partially cooked (runny yolk); uncooked eggs should not be used in foods that will not be cooked, baked or heat-treated in other ways.
• There is no epidemiological evidence to indicate that people have been infected with the H5N1 virus following consumption of properly cooked poultry or eggs.
• The greatest risk of exposure to the virus is through the handling and slaughter of live infected poultry. Good hygiene practices are essential during slaughter and post- slaughter handling to prevent exposure via raw poultry meat or cross contamination from poultry to other foods, food preparation surfaces or equipment


terrye said...

What PETA does not realize is that chickens do not last long in the wild.

think about it.

In fact if not for people raising them I imagine they would have gone the way of the dodo long ago.

Played with their heads? What was mom doing?

Skookumchuk said...


It could be that free range chickens/eggs will begin to lose some of their cachet.

As I understand it, contamination from birds (as opposed to the still hypothetical human to human transmission of a mutated virus) only happens when, for example, you let the the kids use chicken heads as footballs. Otherwise, just some simple precautions should suffice.

chuck said...


Thanks for the links. I found the bit interesting:

In 2004, H5N1 caused fatal disease in naturally infected large felines (tigers and leopards) and experimentally infected domestic cats - species not previously considered susceptible to disease caused by any influenza A virus.

I wonder if cats could become a problem, especially feral cats.

David Thomson said...

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It apparently turns out that one almost has to be an idiot to be afflicted with the H5N1 virus. This threat doesn’t seem to exist for reasonable thinking individuals. I am always particularly careful when handling any raw meat or fish products. We may merely need to cease being politically correct, and inform some people that their long established cultural practices are insane.

"I wonder if cats could become a problem, especially feral cats."

I don't eat cats. Who does?

tony said...

This entire thingy is for the birds.

Skookumchuk said...

I realize we have a dead thread, but here is an interesting view on the connection between ethnicity and social policy in the Turkish cases.

The victims are Turkish Kurds.

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