It seems that the threat of a flu pandemic is invariably looming over our heads. China’s H7N9 bird flu outbreak which started in February 2013 is still ongoing. It recently claimed 31 lives in China in the month of January and the recent spike has been due to the arrival of the colder weather. Zhejiang province in the East and the Southern province of Guangdong are affected the worst. It has also claimed lives in Hong Kong but was apparently after the individuals made trips to China and came in contact with live chickens at chicken farms.
Fortunately there has been no mutation of the virus and the method of transmission still remains from poultry-to-human. Human-to-human transmission has not been established which is indeed good news. China has taken steps to close down live poultry markets in many cities in the affected provinces some only temporarily but most of them permanently by 1st July.
Although this virus is nowhere as virulent as what we had to endure when SARS hit us some years ago, we should still take the necessary precautions when traveling to ‘infected’ areas.
What can you do as a traveler?
Avoid travel to any poultry or live animal farms. Avoid contact with any birds, pigs or animals.
If you must purchase any meat products especially poultry, make sure they are dead or cooked. You would be wise to avoid purchasing any live poultry.
Maintain high hygiene standards.
This includes washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds especially if you have come in contact with people, food produce etc. Bringing your own alcohol hand sanitizer would be a good idea and use it as needed.
Consume fully cooked food.
This would include ALL poultry products including chicken, turkey, eggs. Although the transmission of the virus has not been shown to be passed through the consumption of poultry products, it would be wise to ensure your food is thoroughly cooked. Soft boiled eggs as some of us are used to, would be best avoided in this case.
See a doctor right away.
If you present with any of the following symptoms
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Problems breathing
Keep your immune system strong.
And if you can, avoid travel if you are already sick. A compromised immune system is an easy target for viruses and bacteria!
As always, travel smart and take the necessary precautions. Travel insurance is always a good idea. If you land up sick in hospital while traveling, you could rack up expenses especially with a virus as virulent as these bird flu strains. For more information on our travel insurance plan, check us out at DirectAsia.com and do leave us any comments below!