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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Net, Kansai hotlines offer precautions


Staff writer

OSAKA -- Municipalities in the Kansai region have set up telephone hotlines and are providing information via the Internet on precautions against the bird flu virus, which infected six crows in Kyoto and Osaka prefectures.

People are being warned not to touch or approach wild birds, and to report any bird that is dead or appears ill to local authorities.

The prefectures are also providing a list of dos and don'ts, ranging from washing your hands after touching a nest to properly sealing garbage bags.

"It is especially important that people keep their balconies, rooftops and verandas clean, because once the nesting season begins, crows and other wild birds will build their nests there," Hyogo Prefecture's Web site says. Parents have been advised to make sure their children wash their hands thoroughly after playing in parks where pigeons and crows congregate.

Local officials are anxious that residents take care when putting out their garbage.

"Do not leave your raw garbage out in the open," said Shinji Nishida, an Osaka prefectural official. "Secure it and, if possible, place it in a closed container so that crows cannot get at it."

Consumers who are worried about contracting the avian influenza virus from eating chicken or products that contain chicken are advised to heat it to a temperature of 70 for 10 minutes.

The bird flu hotlines are (06) 6944-6745 for callers in Osaka Prefecture; (078) 362-3453 or (078) 362-3455 for Hyogo Prefecture; and (075) 414-4726 for Kyoto Prefecture.

The hotlines are in Japanese only. Specific information is available in Japanese at www.pref.osaka.jp, www.pref.kyoto.jp and www.pref.hyogo.jp.



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