Bird Flu Update
Last Updated March 15, 2006
We've been getting a few calls lately about bird flu. Infected birds have turned up in several European countries, including Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Austria, Sweden, Scotland, the Czech Republic and Germany. Governments and health agencies are working to contain the outbreak. With the exception of an isolated situation in Turkey, humans have not been affected by this disease.
In a remote part of Eastern Turkey, several local people became ill and four died after they had handled infected poultry on their farms (transmitted through the birds' saliva and droppings). No one anywhere has died as a result of human-to-human transmission.
On our Best of Turkey tours — which do not pass within 500 miles of this remote region — we have never visited markets or farms where birds are present. In addition, as a guard against possible salmonella problems, we have routinely avoided serving chicken at group meals. According to our Turkish guide, Lale Surmen Aran, "These are common-sense health precautions that we would take regardless of any particular disease."
As a precaution, visitors to Turkey should wash hands frequently and avoid contact with poultry. It is important to keep in mind that while it is statistically possible that a variety of bird flu could (1) infect significant numbers of birds in Europe and then (2) mutate into a form which could infect and spread through humans, that is not currently a reality.
If this should change, rest assured that we would never knowingly send our tour members or guides into dangerous places or situations.
We are monitoring the situation carefully, and if and when we hear anything significant regarding bird flu in the region, we'll mention it here. In the meantime, here are some helpful links where you can learn more about bird flu:
From the International Herald Tribune: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/02/news/flu.php
From World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/index.html