Health officials who are alerted to a location where poultry (chicken, ducks, and other farmed birds) have been found to be dying of bird flu or avian influenza (H5N1 virus) will need to take immediate steps to ensure that the disease does not spread. With a good plan, one that includes effective communication measures, the spread of bird flu can be successfully arrested.
The first objective is to identify the people and communities that are most at risk. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 70% of poultry is raised in backyard farms. It is critical, therefore, that health authorities provide basic information on prevention and control of avian influenza to these people as they are at greatest risk of being exposed to the disease. Several countries have adopted preventive measures like placing roofs or nets over chicken pens to keep domestic fowl from coming into contact with migratory birds. It is also advisable that this information could be disseminated through other communication channels such as the media, community leaders, nongovernmental organizations, and policy-makers. The second objective is to adopt and adapt the following key messages and information for local dissemination and use.
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