Also, known as Avian Influenza, Bird flu is one of the most dreaded viral infections in birds. Currently the flu (H5N1) is widely spread in the poultries of Egypt and certain parts of Asia. H5N1 is a highly pathogenic and is causes a lot of harm to most birds. The flu is also deadly to humans if they get infected by the virus.
The first human case bird flu came out in 1997 and it almost 60% of the infected people. Like it spreads among birds, bird flu doesn’t spread from one human to the other. However, there have been a few cases of human-to-human H5N1 transmission among people who may have had exceptionally close contact.
The most natural and common carriers of the flu virus are the migrating water fowl, especially wild ducks. Since the problem is so wild spread, it is very difficult to eradicate it.
How are Humans Affected?
Humans usually catch the flu because of close with birds or their droppings. The closeness to birds includes working with birds and eating an infected bird. While some have H5N1 from cleaning the infected birds, there are some reports of infection because of inhalation of the aerosolized materials in bird markets. There is also a possibility swimming and bathing in water contaminated by infected birds leads to H5N1 in humans.
The symptoms of bird flu in people differ from one person to the other. The initial symptoms are just like any other flu. They include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Fever (over 100.4°F)
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
Initially, the symptoms can be very normal, but they get from worse to severe respiratory disease to fatal.
The first vaccine to prevent human infection from bird flu was announced on April 17, 2007. When given along with some immunity-boosting agents, the experimental H5N1 vaccines provide good protection the variants of H5N1.
There are different types in bird flu and therefore, the treatment options are also different. The most common treatment involves antiviral medication such as zanamivir or oseltamivir. The medication can reduce the severity of the disease. Experts say that medication should be given within 48 hours.
Bird flu is a deadly disease and it can turn out to be fatal. As it is said that prevention is better than cure, it is always advised to take preventive measures such as getting a vaccination. It is also better to avoid open markets, use of uncooked poultry, and contact with infected birds.
Practicing good health and hygienic habits is key to avoid health issues.