Taking a sip of coffee, open your newspaper, and reading all this disastrous news about bird flu to know what’s happening in this era… now there’s nothing we can do about it but we can just know about it and take precautions to be safe from it.
So now dive into this article to know what bird flu is….
So what is bird flu?
Bird flu is also known as avian influenza. It is a viral infection that can infect birds, humans as well as many other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds especially deadly for poultry. Bird flu is caused by a virus called H5N1 which was first detected in 1996 in China. H5N1 was first detected in humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong.
Symptoms of bird flu
This virus is deadly to birds and can very easily affect humans and other animals that come in contact with the carrier of this virus. Some of its symptoms are –
- It has many flu-like symptoms.
- Pain areas: you will feel pain in the muscles of your hands and legs feel tired when walking or doing some stuff.
- Whole-body: your whole body will be in fever with a temperature over 100.4°F or 38°C
- Respiratory difficulties: you will have difficulty in breathing as there will be shortness of breath.
- Nasal: you will have a runny nose or sneeze a lot.
- Coughing, headache, sore throat, cough are also very common.
If you’re exposed to bird flu, you should notify staff before arriving at the hospital so that take precautions to protect staff and other patients
What are the causes of bird flu?
H5N1 just occurred naturally, but it spread easily to domestic poultry. Although there are several types of bird flu but, H5N1 was the first influenza virus to infect humans. This virus is transmitted to humans through contact with bird feces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.
Consuming properly cooked eggs from infected birds doesn’t transmit the virus but eggs should never be served in a fluid state.
Chicken and other poultry products are considered safe if cooked to an internal temperature of 73.9ºC.
This virus does not spread from human-to-human. Still, some experts thinks that H5N1 can become a pandemic threat to humans.
Risk Factors with the Avian Flu
Birds infected with H5N1 continuously release the virus in feces and saliva for about 10 days or more. Touching contaminated surfaces increase the risk of infection.
There’s a greater risk of getting affected with H5N1 if you are:
- A poultry farmer or if have been exposed to infected birds.
- A traveler traveling places affected by the virus.
- A person who eats undercooked eggs.
- A person caring for infected patients.
How is bird flu diagnosed?
A test has been approved which was designed to identify Bird flu. It is called influenza A/H5 (Asian lineage) virus real-time RT-PCR primer and probe set. It can offer results in just a few hours. However, the test isn’t widely available.
The doctor would also perform the following tests to test the presence of the virus that causes bird flu:
- auscultation (a test that detects abnormal breath sounds)
- white blood cell differential
- nasopharyngeal culture
Additional tests are performed to test the functioning of the heart, kidneys, and liver.
Treatment for bird flu
Treatment is done with antiviral medication such as zanamivir (Relenza) which can help reduce the seriousness of the disease. However, the medication should be taken within 48 hours after symptoms first appear.
The virus H5N1 can develop resistance from the antiviral medications, with the help of amantadine and rimantadine (Flumadine). These medications are used to treat the disease.
People in contact with you should also be prescribed antivirals as a preventive measure, even if they aren’t sick. You’ll be placed in isolation to avoid spreading the virus to others.
Outlook for someone with Avian Influenza
Outlook for bird flu carriers depends on the severity of the infection and the type of influenza virus causing it. H5N1virus has a high mortality rate, while other types don’t.
Some potential complications include:
- The fatal inflammatory response to bacteria and other germs.
- organ failure
- acute respiratory distress
Call a doctor if you have flu symptoms within 10 days of handling birds or traveling to areas with a bird flu outbreak.
How is bird flu prevented?
The CDC has issued recommendations when traveling to countries that are affected by H5N1. However, you can minimize your risk by avoiding:
- open-air markets
- contact with infected birds
- undercooked poultry
- wash your hands regularly and practice good hygiene.
Vaccines have been designed to protect against the bird flu, but the vaccine isn’t currently available to the public.
Some questions that can arise in your mind regarding Avian Flu are as follows:
Bird flu is an infectious type of virus that spreads among birds but in rare cases, it can affect humans.
Six countries are considered to be most affected by bird flu (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam).
It depends on the infection level of the virus, but H5N1 virus has the highest mortality rate.
It can’t be directly transmitted from humans to humans, but if you are in close contact with the affected person you are more prone to be affected by it.
Since 2013 there have been 1,568 confirmed human cases and 616 deaths worldwide from bird flu, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Vaccine have been designed to protect against the bird flu, but the vaccine isn’t currently available to the public.
It has many flu like symptoms so if a person is unaware about the virus it would be difficult for him to trace it. So please consult the nearest hospital if any symptoms discussed above are present.
A person should be vaccinated under 48 hours after knowing the symptoms. Otherwise the condition will get more serious.