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11-Year-Old Boy Dies Of Bird Flu At AIIMS In Delhi: Do You Need To Be Worried? Here's What Experts Say

11-Year-Old Boy Dies Of Bird Flu At AIIMS In Delhi: Do You Need To Worry Too? Here's What Experts Say

Bird Flu is a contagious respiratory illness and the symptoms are the same as the common cold. However, the disease severity varies from mild illness to severe disease.

India on Tuesday reported its first bird flu death this year after an 11-year-old boy who was suffering from bird flu or avian influenza died at Delhi's AIIMS hospital. According to the primary reports, the 11-year-old boy was initially suffering from leukaemia and pneumonia. He tested negative for COVID-19 but his reports came positive for bird flu. The incident comes at a time when the country is battling the ferocious second wave of coronavirus and is on the verge of another wave.

Speaking to the media, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria on Wednesday said that human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus is very rare and there is no need to panic. "The transmission of the virus from birds to humans is rare and sustained human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus has not yet been established and therefore there is no need to panic. "But then people working closely with poultry must take precautionary measures and maintain proper personal hygiene," Dr Guleria said.

Human Death From Bird Flu 'Alarming', Says Medical Experts

However, medical experts have raised the alarm and said, the report of human death from H5N1 is alarming and needs to be examined thoroughly for its origin and variants and immediate measures need to be taken. "There is a possibility of having some cases of Bird Flu in Delhi also, but it is the first time such a serious thing has emerged. The death of a human is absolutely alarming for public health and it needs to be taken seriously," said Dr. B L Sherwal, medical director of Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital. "This case needs to be examined very carefully so that its origin can be traced and examined in a genome sequencing lab to find out more about it. We need to know whether it has come from chicken or wild bird," Sherwal added.

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What Is Bird Flu or Avian Influenza?

Bird flu is influenza that affects birds. Over the years, studies have revealed that it is extremely rare that this infection can transmit to humans. According to the World Health Organisation, human cases of bird flu occur "occasionally" but when they do happen, the mortality rate is about 60 per cent. Experts say that the bird flu spreads from the saliva, mucous, and faeces of the infected birds. Stressing on the question of whether bird flu is fatal or not, the experts have stated that bird flu is deadlier than Covid-19 as its mortality rate is 60% in comparison with Covid's 3% mortality rate. However, the transmission of bird flu between humans is extremely low, and that there is no requirement to get worried at the moment.

Bird flu outbreaks were reported across the country earlier this year, including in Haryana where the H5N8 subtype -- which is not known to infect humans -- was detected. After the bird flu outbreaks, the Central government sounded an alert after cases were confirmed in Delhi also.

Should You Be Worried?

According to medical experts, avian influenza (H5N1) or H5N8 enters the human body by inhalation or through the nose, mouth, or eyes. Whenever a person touches his mouth or nose with dirty hands, there is a chance of infection. Bird Flu is a contagious respiratory illness and the symptoms are the same as the common cold. However, the disease severity varies from mild illness to severe disease. Mortality from bird flu can be as high as 60 per cent. Dr. Neetu Jain, PSRI Hospital, said most people working with poultry get affected by Bird Flu. People should avoid coming in contact with infected poultry directly, they should avoid consuming undercooked chicken and eggs. She said that people who are in regular touch with birds should get a yearly flu vaccine shot. "It will not prevent bird flu but can reduce the risk of co-infection with other flu viruses," Jain added.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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