Risk of Bird Flu Transmitting To Humans Very Low

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Bird Flu Risk

Head of Immunisation for England, Dr David Salisbury, has reassured the public that the risk of 'bird flu' being transmitted to humans is very low and that the Department of Health is taking all the right steps to protect the public.

Speaking, Dr Salisbury said:

'There is not a moment of complacency in our planning, which involves protecting the public with anti-virals, protecting them with vaccines and getting the National Health Service as best prepared as we can.

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'The European Commissioner has raised an important point: that people at risk of seasonal flu should make sure that they get their routine vaccination as they do every year.

'We already have well established arrangements for vaccination against seasonal flu and our programme is one of the most effective in Europe. We recommend seasonal vaccination for all those over 65 or those who suffer from illnesses that put them at higher risk from flu - such as asthma, diabetes or serious heart or lung conditions. If you are someone who has been recommended to have flu vaccination, please make sure you have made your appointment with your GP practice.

'Confirmation that highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found in Turkey and that avian influenza is now also in Romania is of concern. It shows that there is a risk to the UK bird population and this is a developing situation which we are monitoring closely with our colleagues at DEFRA. However, hardly anybody is at risk of catching avian flu from birds.

'We take the possibility of a pandemic very seriously and we have been commended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for being at the international forefront of pandemic preparedness. That is why the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, will be discussing these issues with her European counterparts next week to make sure that we are as prepared as we can be.'

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