What is Bird Flu?
Bird flu is a viral infection which is also known as Avian Influenza. It spreads from one bird to another. The most deadly strain of bird flu is H5N1. Birds infected with H5N1 virus may also die. This virus can spread from infected birds to other animals and humans as well and this virus is equally dangerous.
The first case of bird flu in humans came in Hong Kong in 1997. At that time, the reason of its outbreak was told to the infected chickens in the poultry farm. In 1997, about 60 percent of those infected with bird flu died. This disease is caused by contact with the feces of the infected bird, secretions of the nose, saliva of the mouth or water coming out of the eyes.
What is Avian Flu?
Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a viral infection that can infect not only birds, but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.
H5N1 is the most common form of bird flu. It is fatal to birds and can easily affect humans and other animals that come in contact with a carrier. According to the World Health Organization-assigned source, H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997 and nearly 60 percent of those infected with it have killed treated sources.
Currently, the virus is not known to spread through human-to-human contact. Nevertheless, some experts worry that H5N1 may pose an epidemic threat to humans.
What are the symptoms of bird flu?
If you experience flu-like symptoms, you may have H5N1 infection:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever (greater than 100.4 ° F or 38 ° C)
- head ache
- Muscle aches
- ill feeling
- Running nose
- Sore throat
If you are exposed to bird flu, you should inform the staff before reaching the doctor’s office or hospital. Alerting them ahead of time will allow you to take precautions for the safety of staff and other patients before taking care.
What causes bird flu?
Although there are many types of bird flu, H5N1 was the first avian influenza virus to infect humans. The first infection occurred in 1997 in Hong Kong. Its outbreak was linked to infected poultry farming.
H5N1 occurs naturally in wild waterfalls, but it can easily spread in domestic poultry. The disease is caused by contact with the feces of the infected bird, discharge from the nose or discharge from the mouth or eyes.
Consuming properly cooked poultry or eggs from infected birds does not infect bird flu, but eggs should never run. Meat is considered safe if cooked at an internal temperature of 165 (F (73.9) C).
What are the risk factors for avian flu?
H5N1 has the ability to survive for extended periods of time. H5N1-infected birds carry the virus in feces and saliva for up to 10 days. Infections can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces.
If you are, you may be at greater risk of contracting H5N1:
- A poultry farmer
- A traveler visits the affected areas
- Exposure to infected birds
- Someone who eats chicken or eggs
- A health worker caring for infected patients
- A housemate of an infected person
How is the bird flu diagnosed?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source has approved a test designed to identify avian influenza. The test is called influenza A / H5 (Asian ancestry) virus real-time RT-PCR primer and probe set. It can present preliminary results in only four hours. However, testing is not widely available.
Your doctor may also perform the following tests for the presence of the virus that causes bird flu:
- Prolapse (a test that detects abnormal respiratory sounds)
- White blood cell difference
- Nasopharyngeal culture
- chest X-ray
- Additional tests may be performed to assess the functioning of your heart, kidneys and liver.
What is the treatment for bird flu?
Different types of bird flu can cause various symptoms. Consequently, treatments may vary. In most cases, treatment with an antiviral drug such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Rilanza) may help reduce the severity of the disease. However, the drug should be taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms appearing.
The virus that causes the human form of the flu may develop resistance to two of the most common forms of antiviral drugs, amantadine and remantadine (flumedine). These drugs should not be used to treat the disease.
Your family or others in close contact with you may also be prescribed antivirals as a preventive measure, even if they are not ill. You will be placed in isolation to avoid spreading the virus to others. If you develop a serious infection, your doctor may place you on a breathing machine.
What is the approach for someone with bird flu?
The approach to bird flu infection depends on the severity of infection and the type of influenza virus. The mortality of H5N1 is high, while the other types are not. Some possible complications include:
- Sepsis (a potentially fatal inflammatory response to bacteria and other germs)
- organ failure
- Acute respiratory distress
Call your doctor if you have flu symptoms within 10 days of handling birds or travel to areas with a known avian flu outbreak.
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How is bird flu prevented?
Your doctor may advise you to take a flu shot so that you do not have human strain of influenza. If you develop both avian flu and human flu at the same time, it can create a new and possibly deadly form of the flu.
The CDC has not issued any recommendations against travel to countries affected by H5N1. However, you can reduce your risk by:
- open-air market
- Contact infected birds
- Be sure to practice good hygiene and wash your hands regularly.
The FDA has approved a vaccine designed to prevent avian flu, but the vaccine is not currently available to the public. Experts suggest that the vaccine should be used if H5N1 starts spreading to people.