What Is Bird Flu, Symptoms Of The Avian Bird Flu And Other Essential Bird Flu Information

The avian bird flu virus has attracted tremendous interest and media attention in recent months. What exactly is bird flu? Why is the H5N1 bird flu worrying medical experts? What are the symptoms of the avian bird flu? Can the bird flu virus be prevented? These are some of the questions that we will be answering in this article. We would like this article to increase awareness regarding the dangers of the bird flu virus. Technical jargon has been kept to the bare minimum, issues like the symptoms of avian bird flu, handling a dead bird etc have been explained in simple and clear terms.

What Is Avian Bird Flu.
What we are discussing here is a particular type of bird flu virus that has been spreading to humans. There are many bird flu viruses, the H5N1 avian bird flu virus is one such type of bird flu virus. Many wild birds have the H5N1 avian flu virus, however the high resistance levels in such birds ensures that their health is not affected by the presence of the bird flu virus. Though the symptoms of the bird flu are not visible in these infected birds, they are capable of transmitting the virus to other domesticated birds. Low resistance of domesticated birds causes the bird flu virus to show significant and serious health damage to these birds. Affected birds can pass the virus to other healthy birds and the problem soon becomes huge, numerous bird deaths could then occur.

There are validated reports of the bird flu spreading to human beings. This would occur when human beings come in contact with birds (living or dead) affected by the bird flu virus. It is also possible that coming into contact with droppings and nasal drips of infected birds could spread the virus to human beings. We have discussed the issue of how the avian bird flu virus spreads in the next paragraph.

How Does Bird Flu Spread.
If we were to talk about the way in which the bird flu spreads, there would be two aspects to be considered. The first is how the avian bird flu virus spreads among birds, the second is how this bird flu virus infects human beings.

We have already mentioned above that, wild birds often carry the H5N1 bird flu virus but are resistant to the infection. Domestic birds come into contact with these infected wild birds or their droppings (urine, stools, nasal drips) and get infected with the virus. These domesticated birds do not have much resistance against the bird flu and suffer serious health damage that often results in their death. The virus is then transmitted to other domesticated birds through the droppings of infected birds.

In recent years reports have been made of the H5N1 virus infecting human beings, this is what worries most medical experts. The avian bird flu virus could be transmitted to human beings when they come in contact with infected birds or their droppings. The fact that no definite medication or treatment (so far) is available to treat human beings infected by the bird flu is very worrying. Cases of one infected human being infecting another are not very common, but some medical cases have been recorded. The bird flu could have far more serious implications if, the virus starts spreading from one person to another.

Symptoms Of Bird Flu.
When talking about the symptoms of the bird flu virus we will give more emphasis to the symptoms for (infected) human beings. The symptoms of the avian bird flu virus in birds could include ruffled feathers, increased secretion from the eye and loss of appetite. Most cases of bird flu (in birds) are noticed when a number of birds die without any apparent reason.

The symptoms of the bird flu in human beings are very similar to the common flu symptoms and are therefore ignored. This could prove dangerous as early detection and treatment offer the best chance of a cure. Consider these as the main symptoms of bird flu, fever with body temperature that goes beyond 38 degrees centigrade, shortness of breath, cough, headache, sore throat, sore eyes and muscle pains. These bird flu symptoms should be taken all the more seriously if you have recently (within the last 7 days) travelled to a country that has reported cases of bird flu. If you have been near a dead bird and have any of the above symptoms, get medical attention immediately.

Prevention Of Bird Flu, Treatment For H5N1 Avian Bird Flu.
Prevention of bird flu will require efforts in two directions. The first would be to prevent the spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus among birds. Efforts will also be required to control the spread of the bird flu to human beings. Prevention of bird flu among birds will require measures like hygenic conditions in breeding areas, vaccinations and quick separation of infected birds. Prevention of spreading bird flu among birds will also invove cleaning and disinfecting cages, transport vehicles etc that are used to hold or transport birds. It is important to remember that, people working with birds could also transmit the bird flu virus to other birds. In recent times, bird population in entire farms have been killed when few cases of bird flu infection are found.

The prevention of the H5N1 avian flu virus from spreading to human beings is also being given tremendous attention. Human beings get infected with the bird flu virus by coming into contact with infected birds. The infected bird could be dead or alive, special precautions are therefore required when handling dead birds too. Human beings could also be infected when they come into contact with the saliva, droppings or nasal drips of birds infected with the bird flu virus. For the prevention of the bird flu virus among human beings, it is necessary to stay updated regarding the latest news and trends of the virus. Dead birds need to be carefully handled and packed in plastic bags, the bird should not be brought into direct contact with any part of the human body during this process. People working close to birds should ensure that they wear gloves and other protection when cleaning cages etc. Clothes used during the process need to be washed separately and the person will also need to have a bath with lots of clean water and soap.

Regarding the treatment of avian flu, existing antiviral drugs have shown some degree of success. However, much research needs to be done and will need to include the possibility of the flu virus changing it's type and characteristics. Pharmaceutical organizations are working closely with medical experts to create an effective vaccine against the H5N1 bird flu virus. It is true that,the best chances of a cure for bird flu is when the infection is in it's early stages. For this reason, pay attention to any signs and symptoms that could point to a bird flu infection. We would like to mention that, the expenses for medical treatment of a person infected with the H5N1 avian virus are at present, very high.

Bird Flu, Other Useful Information.
Keep in mind that medical research on the H5N1 bird flu virus is still not complete. Prevention of bird flu will be more effectively understood and followed when medical research reveals verified information. Developing a medicine and vaccine for the avian bird flu virus is expensive and time consuming. Medical experts are aware that this virus could change and develop into a different type of virus. Medical treatment for bird flu and an effective vaccine will have to consider the changes that occur in the avian flu virus. Given these facts, it is better to practise prevention and keep in touch with the latest news on the bird flu. People at all levels will need to actively participate in the process of preventing and controlling the spread of bird flu.

A person breeding birds as a profession will need to take precautions to ensure that, he does not spread the bird flu virus. Informing authorities about many bird deaths, ensuring general cleanliness in bird cages etc will be very helpful. Local authorities at the same time will need to make efforts to explain and educate residents about the dangers and nature of the bird flu virus. Hospitals will need to be aware of the medical aspects related to the bird flu and latest treatments. Pharmaceutical companies need to research and provide medicines at fair prices, thinking only of profits and share prices would be a selfish attitude.

You can play your own part in increasing the awareness regarding the bird flu virus. If you have read this article and found it to be interesting or useful, pass the link to a friend, family member or collegue. This simple act would go a long way in informing people about the dangers of the bird flu virus and ways to prevent infections from the avian bird flu virus.

We have provided more detailed information and explanations regarding the H5N1 bird flu virus at this link:
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This article is compiled in the public interest, use it for your general information. It is not meant to substitute professional medical advice, so do contact your family doctor in case of any doubts or queries.