What is Bird Flu?
Bird Flu is also popularly known as Avian Influenza. It’s a viral infection which will not only infect birds but also this virus can infect humans and other animals. Most of the viruses are restricted to birds. H5N1 is said to be a deadly virus for birds and this can easily affect humans and animals who come in contact with a carrier. According to WHO, H5N1 was discovered in the year 1997 and has killed nearly about 60% who got infected. Till now there is no such evidence found on the spread of the virus from human to human contact. There are various forms of bird flu identified but the four most important strains which can cause concerns in recent years are H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 and H5N8.
There are various forms of bird flu but H5N1 is the first avian influenza virus which infects humans. The first infection occurred in the year 1997 in Hong Kong. H5N1 occurs naturally in wild waterfowl, but this can spread very easily to domestic poultry. This disease is directly transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird feces, nasal secretions, and secretions from mouth or eyes.
H5N1 has the ability to survive for an extended period of time. Birds who are infected with H5N1 continue to release the virus in the form of the virus in feces and saliva for 10 days. Getting in contact with the contaminated area can spread the infection.A person may be at a higher risk if he is:
- A poultry farmer
- Visiting the infected areas
- Exposed to infected birds
- Eats undercooked poultry or eggs
A person is suspected to have H5N1 infection if he faces the following symptoms:
- Respiratory difficulties
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
If a person is infected or suspected to have these symptoms he should first notify the hospital staff so that they would take the major precautions.
A test called influenza A/H5 virus real-time RT-PCR primer and probe set will display the preliminary results in 4 hours.The doctor will perform other tests for looking at the presence of the virus, like:
- White blood cell differential
- Nasopharyngeal culture
Additional tests can be done after looking at the severity of the infection and for knowing the functioning of the heart, kidneys and liver.
Various types of bird flu can lead to different symptoms. So, as a result, treatment can also vary. In some cases, treatment with antiviral medication such as oseltamivir or Relenza can help us in reducing the severity of the disease. The medicines should be taken within the 48 hours after symptoms start showing.
The virus which causes a human form of the flu will develop resistance to the two most common forms of antiviral medications which includes amantadine and flumadine. The medications should not be used for treating the disease.
Before taking all these medicines talk with your doctor first take his consultation and then take the dosage accordingly for curing the disease faster. Taking the medicine without consulting a doctor can lead to some serious health conditions.
The doctor can recommend you for a flu shot which will help you in not getting a human strain of influenza. If a person is getting a bird and human flu at the same time then it can turn out to be deadly. The risk can be controlled to some extent by avoiding:
- Open-air markets
- Contact with infected birds
- Undercooked poultry
- Consumption of raw eggs
If a person is exposed to bird flu, then the health condition and treatment depends on the severity of the infection and the type of influenza virus that is causing it. H5N1 has a high death rate than the other influenza virus. Some of the complications it includes:
- Organ failure
- Acute respiratory disease
Bird Flu 2021 outbreak
Bird flu is marked in birds and which is caused due to Influenza Type A viruses. The viruses don’t affect humans directly but if they get to consume any infected bird there is a high risk of getting in contact with avian influenza.
Guidelines to be followed for avoiding in getting contact with the 2021 Influenza virus:
- Avoid consuming any wild birds or domestic birds. Stay away from the excretion or the secretion exposed surface.
- Check if you are having any flu symptoms or if you have been in contact with an infected bird.
- For preventive measures take influenza antiviral drugs or vaccines after consulting with your doctor.
- There is no such evidence on influence transmission reported after consuming well-cooked poultry or dairy products.
How does the bird flu spread?
Wild aquatic birds like ducks and geese have mainly been infected with influenza A viruses. Most of the birds carry the flu without showing or developing any symptoms of sickness and shed it in their droppings. Birds excrete while flying and they provide aerosol influenza virus shedding all over the world.
Birds that travel a very long distance, can easily spread the virus. Sometimes the virus can spread to mammals, such as pigs, horses, cats and dogs.
Does the virus easily spread to humans?
No, bird flu is not easily spread to humans. People who come in very close contact with the infected birds, alive or dead can get bird flu. According to WHO bird flu is not transmitted from person to person. Also, they have stated the disease can be spread due to the consumption of raw egg or improperly cooked food. These viruses are very sensitive and die in the cooking temperature. People are scared because H5N1 is a severe and deadly disease. If the virus turns out to be human transmissible disease then it can lead to a pandemic.
Difference between Seasonal flu, Avian flu and Pandemic Influenza
|This influenza is said to be a highly infectious disease which easily spreads through humans.||This influenza is well known as Bird Flu. It’s a contagious disease which is caused by Influenza A viruses that normally affect birds.||A pandemic occurs when a new virus emerges and starts spreading rapidly. Normally, the virus is easily spread through sneezing and coughing.|
|Important strains of influenza virus are A and B.||The four most strains which can cause concerns in recent years are H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 and H5N8.||An influenza pandemic is a very rare case. Influenza A virus has caused some serious pandemics.|