Measures against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

November 24, 2021

Hokesen Letter, No 224 (English ver.), November 15, 2021
Health Care Center, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Yasuhiro Yamauchi, MD, PhD

It was announced on November 10, 2021 that a suspected case of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was confirmed at an egg-laying chicken farm in Yokota City, Akita Prefecture. Please be aware of the following points regarding countermeasures against this virus. However, in Japan, there is no current concern about the possibility of people becoming infected with the avian influenza virus by eating chicken meat or eggs.

1. Standard precautions for infection control.
Please perform standard precautions for infection control, such as thorough hand washing.

2. Ensuring that everyone is aware of how to deal with wild birds, domestic animals, and captive animals, etc. Refer to the "How to treat wild birds" prepared by the Ministry of the Environment (see below).
(1) If a large number of wild birds or other animals have died in the same place, please contact your local prefectural or municipal office.
(2) When cleaning up dead wild birds and other wild animals, do not touch them directly with your bare hands, but use disposable gloves.
(3) As long as you wash your hands and gargle after coming into contact with the droppings of wild birds and other wild animals, you do not need to be overly concerned.
(4) Avoid getting too close to wild birds, since bird droppings on the soles of shoes and vehicles may carry the bird flu virus to other areas. In particular, please be very careful not to step on droppings with your shoes, and disinfect them if necessary.
(5) Avoid unnecessarily chasing or trying to catch wild birds.
(6) If you are breeding birds or animals, please keep them from contacting with animal birds. Also, please do not leave them free. To prevent wild birds from entering and dropping their feces and urine, please take appropriate measures such as installing roofs such as tin sheets on the breeding facilities. In addition, please keep the surrounding area clean and free of food such as grain, garbage, and other things that attract wild birds.

3. Spreading correct knowledge
Avian influenza (bird flu) is not transmitted to humans by eating chicken meat or eggs, and it is extremely unlikely that it can be transmitted to humans. Please do not be confused by baseless rumors, and respond calmly based on accurate information.

This is "How to interact with wild birds" prepared by the Ministry of the Environment.
 If a large number of wild birds die in the same area, contact the municipal office.
 When cleaning dead wild birds and other wild animals, do not touch them with bare hands, but use disposable gloves.
 After touching excrement from wild animals, such as wild birds, in your daily life, please perform hand-washes and gargle. You don’t need to worry too much.
 Please keep distance from wild birds, because there is a possibility that avia influenza virus may be brought to other areas through the excrement sticking to your shoes or your vehicles. Especially, do not step on the excrements with your shoes; and if you do so, please disinfect them.
 Please avoid chasing birds or catching them unnecessarily.

If you have any questions, please consult the Health Care Center, TUFS.