USAREUR health officials stressing bird flu precautions
MANNHEIM, Germany — German authorities expect to learn in a day or two whether a dead duck plucked from the Rhein River in Mannheim had the full-blown version of avian flu, a U.S. Army spokeswoman said Monday.
For now, with confirmed cases of the H5N1 strain in six German states, U.S. Army officials are leaving nothing to chance, said Christine Gebhard, a spokeswoman for U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim. Members of the community are being asked to respect a 1.8-mile “restriction zone” and a six-mile “observatory range” in and around Mannheim. “The key thing is for people not to panic,” Gebhard said. “They just need to be careful.”
The restricted zone means all domesticated birds, or fowl, should be kept away from migrating birds, Gebhard said. Covering a cage, for example, is one way to ensure that. Officials are also cautioning against visiting chicken farms or bird breeding clubs.
Additionally, dogs should be kept on leashes and cats confined to the home, a rule that also applies to the “observatory range.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the European Regional Medical Command said Monday afternoon that his organization plans to have more information on the avian flu posted this week at: www.healthcare.hqusareur.army.mil.
“It’s basically a fact sheet on what to do if you find a [dead] bird in the area,” said Phil Tegtmeier, an ERMC spokesman.
Gebhard stressed that “it’s very normal for [birds to die] this time of year” due to migration and cold weather. However, she said, if anyone in the Mannheim area comes across a dead bird they should leave it alone and call the community public works department at 0621-730-8797. A German after-hours phone number is: 0621-730-115.