Bird Flu

Also called: Avian flu, Avian influenza, H5N1, H7N9

Birds, just like people, get the flu. Bird flu viruses infect birds, including chickens, other poultry, and wild birds such as ducks. Most bird flu viruses can only infect other birds. However, bird flu can pose health risks to people. The first case of a bird flu virus infecting a person directly, H5N1, was in Hong Kong in 1997. Since then, the bird flu virus has spread to birds in countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Human infection is still very rare, but the virus that causes the infection in birds might change, or mutate, to more easily infect humans. This could lead to a pandemic, a worldwide outbreak of the illness.

During an outbreak of bird flu, people who have contact with infected birds can become sick. It may also be possible to catch bird flu by eating poultry or eggs that are not well cooked or through contact with a person who has it. Bird flu can make people very sick or even cause death. Antiviral medicines may make the illness less severe, and may help prevent the flu in people who were exposed to it. There is currently no vaccine.

Symptoms of Bird Flu

The following features are indicative of Bird Flu:
  • cough
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • mild eye infection

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Common Causes of Bird Flu

The following are the most common causes of Bird Flu:
  • contact with an infected bird's feces
  • secretions from infected bird's mouth, nose or eyes
  • open-air markets
  • undercooked eggs or poultry meat from infected birds

Risk Factors for Bird Flu

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Bird Flu:
  • contact with infected bird's feathers, droppings or saliva

Prevention of Bird Flu

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Bird Flu. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid contact with birds
  • use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • avoid travelling to infected regions
  • get flu shot
  • cook chicken or meat thoroughly

Occurrence of Bird Flu

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Bird Flu cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Bird Flu most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 20-50 years

Common Gender

Bird Flu can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Bird Flu

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Bird Flu:
  • Laboratory tests: To diagnose bird flu by getting samples of fluids from nose or throat
  • Imaging tests: To diagnose bird flu by checking the condition of the lungs

Doctor for Diagnosis of Bird Flu

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Bird Flu:
  • Primary care doctor

Complications of Bird Flu if untreated

Yes, Bird Flu causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Bird Flu is left untreated:
  • pneumonia
  • collapsed lung
  • respiratory failure
  • kidney dysfunction
  • heart problems

Self-care for Bird Flu

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Bird Flu:
  • Wash hands thoroughly: Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash hands
  • Cook thoroughly: Cook your food like chicken properly
  • Ask about a flu shot: Take a flu shot before traveling to affected regions
  • Avoid contact with infected birds: Avoid contact with infected birds and their droppings or saliva

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Bird Flu

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Bird Flu:
  • Use herbs: Herbs and chinese medicines containing flavonoids, polyphenols, lignans and alkaloids to treat bird flu

Is Bird Flu Infectious?

Yes, Bird Flu is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • contact with infected birds
  • contact with infected bird's feathers, droppings or saliva

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Bird Flu.
Animal Diseases and Your Health

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