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MND reveals military flu prevention plan

2005-10-25 / Taiwan News, STAFF REPORTER / By Su Chueh-yu

Showing concern for Taiwan's servicemen, medical officers at the Ministry of National Defense came up with measures to help prevent an outbreak of avian flu in the military, should the disease spread to humans in Taiwan.

A worker uses a stick to drive ducks from a truck into the Taipei Poultry Market worker uses a stick to drive ducks from a truck into the Taipei Poultry Market yesterday. Premier Frank Hsieh yesterday urged people to have no fears in consuming local poultry./RICK YI, TAIWAN NEWS
The MND's Medical Affairs Bureau required sailors, pilots and mess attendants to be vaccinated for normal influenza viruses and most have already been vaccinated. While there is no vaccine for bird flu the normal flu vaccine is considered useful in the fight against the disease.

Bureau officials said they were given priority since they often work in closed spaces with poor ventaliation and are most likely to contract contagious diseases.

Some soldiers, who are on duty and out of the offices and as such are less at risk, have been asked by the bureau to obtain their own shots. Though officials noted that if avian flu breaks out among those who were not vaccinated, the MND would be prepared to fight the disease with everything avalable.

The CDC has limited free public flu vaccinations to young children less than two-years old and people over sixty-five as they are considered more vulnerable to the flu than others and are more likely to have complications such as pneumonia.

According to medical statistics, one out of every five to ten thousand people every year dies from flu. Most are older or have chronic heart problems.

Citizens are being asked to refrain from staying in public spaces for long periods of time and are encouraged to wash their hands frequently, since good hygiene is the most effective tool in fighting against bird flu.

Pediatricians at Tri-Service General Hospital offer several tips for people during this time of year as the weather becomes changeable and people are more likely to get sick.

Changing the water temperature while showering may help the body to adapt to sudden temperature changes, though is not recommended for people with high blood pressure or heart problems.

Increasing vitamin intake is considered a key way to strengthen the immune system, but researchers suggest getting vitamins from fruits and vegetables rather than from pills, since a high dosage of some vitamins may enduce side-effects.

In related news, the MND also announced that the first two Kidd-class destroyers bought from the United States would arrive in December.

Taiwan purchased four Kidd-class destroyers at NT$24 billion from the U.S. in June 2003. At the end of this month, the first two warships will be handed over to the Taiwanese Navy in the the U.S., while the remaining two are expected to be delivered in March 2007.

The Navy said that the four destroyers are expected to manage the front line of defense in the fleet, targeting enemy planes that have fired missiles.

Its fellow frigates, the Perry-class, Knox-class and Lafayette-class vessels, will deal with incoming missiles, playing a more "inner circle" role.