Bird Flu – Knowledge can save lives
Bird Flu can be deadly in humans unless medication starts within 48 hours after symptoms first appear. Here is all you need to know about the causes, symptoms and prevention of bird flu.
What is Bird Flu?
Bird flu or avian influenza is a viral infection that afflicts certain bird species. Most of these viruses infect only birds, but there are a few that can be transmitted to humans and animals.
H5N1 is the most common form of this disease – It is deadly to birds and can easily infect humans and other animals that come in contact with a carrier. According to the WHO, H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hongkong, China.
Recent Incidents of Bird Flu in India
Incidents of birds dying in Delhi were reported from the Delhi Zoo, Hauz Khas Deer farm and a lake near Shakti Sthal last month(October 2016). As a precaution these parks were immediately closed and advisories were issued.
Nearly 70 wild birds deaths were reported and there were outbreaks of avian influenza caused by N5N8 virus and around 1200 birds have already been culled. The Indian government has issued alerts throughout the country.
What CAUSES Infection in humans?
Migrating water fowl — most notably wild ducks — are natural carriers of these viruses. The infection can spread from wild fowl to domestic poultry. Some people have caught H5N1 from cleaning or plucking infected birds. Humans can catch bird flu by
- Close contact with infected bird droppings
- Contact with Nasal, Eye or Mouth Secretions of infected birds
- Consumtion of Undercooked Poultry meat/Eggs
Bird Flu PREVENTION – How to avoid infection
People at high risk include poultry farm workers, animal control workers, wildlife biologists and ornithologists who handle live birds. Even if you don’t fit in these categories follow theses tips in case of an outbreak. Keep in mind that protecting the eyes, nose, mouth and hands is important for prevention because these are the most common ways for the virus to enter the body.
What are the SYMPTOMS if a human is infected?
The symptoms of Bird Flu in humans can vary. It may start as normal flu-like symptoms – cough, sore throat, fever. In worst case, it can cause severe respiratory problems that can be fatal.
Bird Flu Treatment
In most cases, treatment with certain antiviral medication can help reduce the severity of the disease. However, the medication must be given within 48 hours after symptoms first appear. People in contact with the infected person might also be prescribed antivirals as a preventive measure. To avoid spreading the virus to others, the patient might be placed in isolation.
Bird flu infection depends on the severity and the type of influenza virus causing it. H5N1 has a high mortality rate, while other kinds do not. Vaccines for bird flu have been developed but are being tested and should be available to the civilian population soon.