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Alaska Natives likely to be exposed to bird flu

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  • Alaska Natives likely to be exposed to bird flu

    All thanks to Alaska Denise

    Alaska Natives likely to be exposed to bird flu
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    14 Apr 2006 01:28:21 GMT, Source: Reuters, By Yereth Rosen

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska, April 13 (Reuters) - Alaska Natives may be the the most likely people in North America to be exposed to the avian flu virus because they depend for food on wild migratory birds from Asia, a health care expert said on Thursday.

    Alaska is a probable point of entry for the H5N1 strain of bird flu, because it is at the crossroads of wild waterfowl and shorebird migration to and from Asia.

    Native Alaskans are likely to come in contact with infected ducks and geese, but the government's advice for avoiding infection, such as washing thoroughly when handling hunted birds, makes little sense for people living and working in a wilderness environment.

    "I don't know anybody in any of the villages who has rubber gloves in their hunting gear, or hand sanitizer," said Patricia Cochran, executive director of the Alaska Native Science Commission, at a pandemic flu planning summit organized by federal and state agencies.

    "Sometimes we need ... a bit of a reality check," she said.

    Alaska Natives are the indigenous Eskimo, Indian and Aleut people who make up about 16 percent of the state's population and traditionally hunt for their food. Most Native villages are located in rural areas of Alaska.

    Worries about avian flu are acute among Native Alaska populations and there are memories of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which almost wiped out entire villages, said Cochran, an Inupiat Eskimo from northwestern Alaska.

    Between 75,000 and 100,000 wild birds around the United States will be tested for the H5N1 virus, with much of that effort concentrated in Alaska, said Alex Azar, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    The avian flu virus, which has killed at least 109 people worldwide, has spread since 2003 from Asia to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

    Health officials noted, however, that the virus has proved difficult to spread from bird to human, and even more difficult to spread among humans.

    "It will not be a cause for panic. It will not be a cause for people to stop hunting. It will not be a cause for people to stop eating poultry," said Azar.

  • #2
    Re: Alaska Natives likely to be exposed to bird flu

    As with many news sources, they are partly correct and partly wrong.

    The Native Alaskans will probably be the initial group affected by H5N1 coming to North America. As wild birds continue to migrate and spread H5N1 further, the groups most likely to be exposed are the workers at small and large poultry farms, poultry processors, and families that keep chickens or ducks as pets or supplemental food.

    Until (and if) H5N1 becomes H2H, people in the largest population areas will face their greatest threats from domestic and agricultural poultry (chickens, ducks, turkeys, etc...).
    "Predictable is Preventable" by Safety Expert Dr. Gordon Graham.