Bird flu also known as avian influenza is a disease that’s caused by viruses and affects birds and can be passed on to humans. Bird flu’s H5N1 strain has evolved such that it infects more species than any known strain and is constantly evolving. If a farm-raised bird gets affected it must be immediately culled to stop the virus from spreading.
It’s not particularly dangerous for humans yet. There are some researchers who believe that if this strain mutates and starts spreading between humans it could cause a large scale pandemic.
You can get bird flu by coming in close contact with infected poultry. This makes people who work with poultry particularly vulnerable although we should note that not a single human case has been reported from Hesaraghatta yet. Here's how bird flu viruses adapt to humans.
Bird flu can spread from the bird’s skin, excreta and blood. Also eating, uncooked or under-cooked birds infected with the virus could cause bird flu. However, if thoroughly cooked there’s no way the flu virus can survive or transmit to humans.
Read about bird flu kills 350 birds amidst swine flu scare in UP.
Some of the typical symptoms are -
More severe symptoms include -
One symptom which is seen in many patients is the infection of the lower respiratory tract. On present evidence, experts believe that difficulty in breathing develops around five days after the first symptoms. Read more about bird flu – symptoms and spread.
There is no publicly-available vaccine against H5N1 yet. The most commonly used medicine to treat H5N1 in humans is Oseltamivir (also known as Tamiflu) which is an anti-viral that prevents the spread of flu in the body.
Read about coming soon — a treatment for bird flu!
Always wash your hands properly before and after handling meat. It’s also important to make sure that you wash and clean the meat and eggs properly and cook it so that the virus can’t survive. If you’ve flu-like symptoms you should immediately contact a physician because unlike seasonal flu the disease has a much higher fatality rate. Here's how regular flu vaccines can protect against a broad range of viruses, including deadly H7N9.
Basically, most experts feel that there is nothing to worry about for humans yet and basic hygiene levels should be enough to keep the virus away – for now.
Read in detail about precautions you should take to prevent bird flu.