(Trinidad Express) Bird flu has come to T&T.Contacted last night, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan confirmed there are three cases of the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as bird flu, in this country.Khan said there was no need for panic and assured that the min­istry and relevant authorities have the issue under control.He said he will be meeting this morning with various persons at the Mi­n­istry of Health in Port of Spain, including the chief medical officer, epidemiologist and those involved in immunisation, to discuss the matter elaborately.Signs and symptoms of bird flu typically begin within two to five days of infection. In most cases, they resemble those of conventional influ­enza.Some people also experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. And in a few cases, a mild eye infection (conjunctivitis) is the only indication of the disease.Bird flu occurs naturally in wild waterfowl and can spread into domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. The disease is transmitted via contact with an infected bird’s faeces, or secretions from its nose, mouth or eyes.Open-air markets where eggs and birds are sold in crow­ded and unsanitary conditions are hotbeds of infection and can spread the disease into the wider community.According to the Food and Drug Administration, bird flu cannot be transmitted by eating properly cooked poultry meat or eggs from infected birds. Poultry meat is safe to eat if it’s been cooked to an internal temperature of 165F (74C). Eggs should be cooked until the yolk and white are firm.The greatest risk factor for bird flu seems to be contact with sick birds or with surfaces contaminated by their fea­thers, saliva or droppings. In very few instances, bird flu has been transmitted from one human to another. But unless the virus begins to spread more easily among people, infected birds present the greatest hazard.The pattern of human trans­mission remains mysterious. People of all ages have contracted and died of bird flu. At this point, too few people have been infected to know all the possible risk factors for bird flu. —Mayo Clinic online

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