Are You Ready for Bird Flu Season?

Yes, it's another flu scare, and it's just in time for school.

A health worker in India takes a duck away for culling. (Photo: Stringer India/Reuters)
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.

Don't call it a comeback. It's been around for years.

Not to be outdone by the over-hyped swine flu outbreak from a couple of years ago, Asia's least desirable export has reared its ugly beak yet again.

According to a statement released by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday, a new mutant strain of the avian flu virus has been spreading across China and Vietnam. Endemic to the region, it's already caused the death of eight people in Cambodia this year, most recently a 6-year-old girl on August 14.

According to the AP:

The virus was eliminated from most of the 63 countries infected at its peak in 2006, but it remained endemic in six countries: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The number of outbreaks in poultry and wild bird populations shrank from a high of 4000 to 302 in mid-2008, but outbreaks have risen progressively since, with almost 800 cases reported in 2010-2011, FAO said.

Since 2003, when the virus was first detected, H5N1 has caused 331 human deaths from 565 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization. It has also led to the death of over 150 million birds, either from infection or preventative culling.

While the mutation has yet to appear on North American soil, as is the case with all flu viruses, prevention is a matter of common sense:

  • Always wash your hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
  • If your child gets sick, don't send him or her to school. If you are sick, don't go to work.
  • Avoid crowded places or anywhere people are confined in an indoor space.

Check out the full story after the jump.

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