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조류독감이 가족에게 안겨준 슬픔

2007.01.22
Avian influenza devastates Turkish family and highlights need for prevention In the shadows of Mount Ararat, a father in eastern Turkey tries to recover from the death of his 16-year-old daughter, Fatma. The father's name is Mehmet Emin Ozcan and one year after Fatma died from avian flu, he is still dazed... and refuses to believe the doctors who say she died from handling an infected duck. "Her death came all of a sudden and I have no explanation how she became ill," he says. "It was God's decision. I thought, 'Fatma is my child that I love the most, but God decided to take her away from me." The only photos he owns of Fatma are from the newspapers, a few days before she died. His youngest son also contracted avian flu, and survived after spending 17 days on a ventilator. Because of Turkey's proximity to Asia, Europe and Africa, migrating birds regularly travel through the country. Infected birds are believed to have passed the virus to domesticated flocks of birds, mostly raised by poor communities. Doctors note that all four children who died here last year had been in close contact with home-raised ducks and chickens. After the outbreak hit, millions of chickens and other birds were slaughtered in affected countries. In Turkey, UNICEF has been working closely with the government to educate people, especially those who raise birds at home, about proper hygiene and protection. UNICEF's Sema Hosta says, "We took so many precautions but the most important part is developing the communication materials – developing television spots, posters, flyers, and disseminating them by using different mediums, like schools, like the media, collaboration with the minister of health, the minister of agriculture. By using any possible channel. And within these messages, we are really focusing on prevention. You have to keep your children away from the chickens and all the winged animals and the most important, the basic information: wash your hands with soap and water." Other measures have been taken as well. The Turkish government is setting up a lab in eastern Turkey to quickly diagnose any new cases in the region. The government is also trying to limit the exposure of domesticated birds to wild birds, as seen in this large poultry farm that is hermetically sealed to the outside world. But serious threats remain. New human cases of avian flu in Asia have already appeared in 2007, and health experts warn that if the virus mutates into a human strain, it could trigger a global pandemic that could kill millions.
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