State ‘on standby’ for bird flu

State services are fully prepared to tackle a possible outbreak of bird flu in Greece, the Hellenic Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) has said following reports that three children in Turkey have died from the deadly strain of the virus. «Reports of humans affected by bird flu in Turkey have not affected the level of readiness in our country or elsewhere in the world,» KEELPNO said, adding that it had already devised a plan of action to spot signs of a possible bird flu epidemic and take the necessary preventive measures. The center has also issued an information leaflet for travelers visiting countries where humans have been affected by the virus. The leaflet advises travelers to avoid contact with dead or live poultry, to avoid visiting livestock markets and farms, to wash their hands frequently – preferably with an alcohol-based solution – and to avoid eating meals containing chicken or eggs, especially if they have not been cooked at a high temperature. Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed bird flu as the cause of death of three children from the same family in eastern Turkey. Meanwhile Turkish doctors were treating more than 20 other people, mostly youngsters, suspected of suffering from the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. A spokesperson for the WHO in Geneva said it was sending experts to Turkey this weekend to check for signs that the virus had been passed from person to person, which scientists fear could trigger a pandemic. Regarding the three siblings, from a rural area in eastern Turkey, it is unclear whether the disease was passed from one child to another. Doctors said they had contracted the virus from proximity to sick birds.

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