EUCOM, Components prepare for pandemic flu


is Bird Flu?

“Bird flu” is an infection caused by avian influenza viruses.
These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide commonly
carry the viruses in their intestines or respiratory tracts but usually
do not get sick from them. However, bird flu can be contagious among birds
and can make some domesticated birds – including chickens, ducks
and turkeys – very sick and kill them. Most recently, avian flu was
found in birds in Romania, Turkey, Croatia, Greece and Russia.
The H5N1 strain of the avian flu virus has pandemic potential, since it
might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans. Once
this adaptation occurs, according to the World Health Organization, it
will no longer be a bird virus – it will be a human influenza virus.
Influenza pandemics are caused by new influenza viruses that have adapted
to humans.

STUTTGART, Germany – Officials are meeting in Stuttgart this week to plan for how best to deal with a potential outbreak of avian influenza that could mutate into a pandemic flu.

Conference attendees, including subject matter experts from throughout the region, are creating a comprehensive plan in coordination with U.S.
European Command, host nations, the Department of Defense and other governmental agencies to deal with a possible pandemic caused by the mutation of the H5N1 influenza virus, more commonly known as “bird flu,” that is currently circulating through domestic and wild bird flocks around the world.

“Due to the serious consequences presented by a potential pandemic, and in support of U.S. government worldwide efforts, EUCOM is coordinating with appropriate organizations and governments to ensure that people are protected and informed,” said Lt. Col. Ron Sanders, the lead project officer for EUCOM’s pandemic influenza response team.
The DOD, Department of State, Health and Human Services, World Health Organization and other governments and agencies are preparing for a possible pandemic – a global outbreak of disease – of avian influenza. These organizations are building on the knowledge and experience from other recent public health crises, including SARS and the 2001 anthrax attacks, to meet the threat of a pandemic outbreak. EUCOM and its component commands are continuing the planning process to protect their servicemembers, family members and employees while maintaining operational readiness.


Tips to minimize your risk of contracting
Avian Influenza

There is currently no vaccination for the H5N1 virus that causes avian
influenza. Maintaining good basic hygiene practices remains the best defense.
– Remain calm, the virus in its current form is passed by direct contact
to humans from infected birds or their droppings

– Practice basic
hygiene practices such as hand washing, cough/sneeze etiquette and
avoiding crowded
places with poor ventilation

– Get the seasonal
flu shot to help maintain an overall healthy immune system

– Maintain
good health practices such as eating a balanced diet, exercising,
avoiding tobacco, getting adequate rest and maintaining
adequate indoor

– Avoid going to
bird parks, poultry markets and farms in countries with H5N1 outbreaks

– Avoid fresh
animal markets and live poultry in countries with H5N1 outbreaks

– Avoid
touching birds and poultry, and particularly their droppings

– If
contact has been made with birds or poultry, wash your hands thoroughly
with soap and water

– If traveling to
high-risk countries, clean hands regularly with soap and water or a
waterless alcohol-based hand-rub

– Cook all poultry
products thoroughly (160-degrees Fahrenheit), including eggs

– Practice
safe food handling procedures when preparing poultry products, and
ensure thorough cooking

– Buy food from approved

– Phone your health
provider if you develop fever, breathing difficulties and cough after
returning from a country
with avian influenza outbreaks

The presence of even a limited number of human cases of avian influenza has raised concerns that the current situation could become a pandemic if the virus develops the ability to spread from human to human. If such a situation should occur in Europe, the EUCOM plan suggests individuals should be prepared to increase good personal hygiene practices such as hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, and care in food preparation.

In the event of an epidemic avian influenza outbreak, social distancing, isolation and quarantine procedures may have to be implemented. Social distancing includes limiting social gatherings and interactions such as attending school, churches, civic clubs and groups, and work activities. Local commanders and health officials will notify personnel of specific procedures on their installations.

Some existing antiviral treatments are available to