All You Need to Know About Bird Flu | Aakash Healthcare
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All You Need to Know About Bird Flu

Delhi’s best flu and infectious disease doctors explains…

In light of the bird flu that has been going around, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka has been receiving a lot of queries about the disease. So, we decided to share everything you need to know about this avian flu, or bird flu. This refers to a group of diseases that occur due to infections with specific influenza viruses. These viruses mostly infect birds and quite rarely spread to humans. One such virus is called bird flu.

Bird Flu may cause severe flu with high risk of mortality. The virus has never spread largely among humans and is showing no signs of it spreading more among humans. The fact that the disease can get very serious causes authorities to always be cautious and monitor any potential threat of breaking out among birds, once infected with bird flu the chances of death are around sixty percent.

The very first H5N1 avian flu among people happened in 1997 in Hong Kong.

We’ll have a look at whether bird flu poses a threat to human and course over some symptoms, causes, and treatments for bird flu.

Will bird flu become a pandemic!?

It doesn’t look like it; the Avian virus doesn’t transmit easily from animals to humans like COVID-19. It’s much harder for the virus to spread from person to person, like COVID-19.

In case a person with seasonal flu develops bird flu, the Bird flu virus may be able to merge or mutate with this and easily spread like seasonal flu. Bird flu may then be able to easily spread among people: and this will have serious consequences.

So, it always important to monitors and control outbreaks of bird flu in animals and we humans can keep the virus from developing this ability.

What is Bird flu?

Type A strains of influenza like H5N1, H1N3, H7N7, H7N19, H7N2 and now the breakout which is H5N8 are the cause of bird flu, or avian flu. The H5N1 virus infects several kinds of birds and the majority of outbreaks happen in poultry, like chicken, ducks, geese and turkeys.

Recently healthcare professionals found wild ducks with the avian flu. Virologists are scientists who specialise in viral diseases and their research led them to find Bird flu in pigs, cats, dogs, and leopards and tigers in zoos.

The virus spreads most rapidly among birds through their saliva, nasal secretions, droppings, and bird feed. They can contract it from the contaminated surfaces of cages and other equipment.

Most humans who have had the infection have had direct contact with infected poultry or objects that were touched by contaminated bird droppings. So, it is assuring to know that very few cases of human-to-human transmission have occurred.

Apart from the recent outbreak in Rajasthan, the last significant reported incidence of bird flu was in Malaysia in 2017. The outbreak killed many chickens like in India, but the authorities reported no human infections.

Symptoms

It takes some “incubation period” which is the amount of time between the infection and the host developing symptoms after contracting the virus. The virus is contagious during this time and can spread to others through direct contact.

Most experts agree that the incubation period of Bird flu in humans is at most days, but 2–5 days is usually the time it takes.

Bird flu has caused severe symptoms in the people if infected. The serious symptoms of normal flu also happen, for example a high fever above 100.4ºF, severe cough and muscle aches.

The symptoms of bird flu can range from mild to severe: a hoarse voice, sore throat, malaise, an upset stomach, diarrhoea, nausea vomiting abdominal and chest pain, and even an altered mental state or seizures.

Some people with bird flu end up developing severe respiratory problems, like pneumonia and lack of breath.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) shortness of breath will occur about 5 days after the first symptoms appear.

The health of a person with avian flu can deteriorate severely and quickly. People experience respiratory failure and multiple organ failure, leading to death.

Causes

The following activities may lead to infections in humans:

  • Directly touching infected birds
  • Breathing in air close to infected droppings of infected birds
  • Touching and preparing infected poultry for cooking
  • Killing or butchering infected poultry
  • Dealing with selling birds.
  • Being in live food markets that sell live birds

Bird flu can transmit between humans through the eyes, nose, or mouth. However, some people have been known to get infected without exposure whatsoever to birds with the virus.

Eating properly cooked poultry or eggs will not cause infection. However, please remember to cook your poultry until its internal temperature is 165 degrees F or 74 degrees C, and cook eggs until both whites and yolk are firm.

Dr. Parinita Kaur
Consultant
Internal Medicine

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