Bird flue

What is bird flu?

Bird flu is a viral infection that is caused by a strain of the bird virus. Although many strains of this virus have been identified, the one that can infect humans is the H5N1 strain.

But at the end of 2013, a case of a woman who died from a new strain of the H10N8 virus was reported in China. This strain was found in wild birds. But in most cases they do not get sick from the virus, only its carriers. However, wild birds can easily infect birds that are raised for food such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, etc.

The avian virus is not usually transmitted from birds to humans. But since 1997 since then there have been quite a few cases of people contracting this deadly strain of the virus.

What are the symptoms?

Most often, the symptoms of a viral infection are identical to those of an ordinary flu, such as:
• Increased body temperature;
• Cough and sore throat;
• Muscle aches;
• Bird virus can cause and inflammation of the eyes – conjunctivitis;

But the infection can rapidly progress to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome and partial lung dysfunction, which can be fatal.

In cases of death, the reaction time is very short. About 9-10 days after the onset of symptoms, death may occur.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have traveled anywhere or live in an area where the virus is endemic.

What are the causes?

It is caused by a virus belonging to the Orthomyxoviridae family and is an RNA virus that is negative-stranded.

Once a wild bird infects one or a few birds raised on a large poultry farm, the virus spreads to hundreds or even thousands of farm birds in a very short time.

Sick birds must be killed to stop the spread of the infection. People who come into contact with sick chickens, ducks or turkeys are more likely to become infected.

The virus is transmitted through faeces and saliva on surfaces such as cages, tractors and other farm machinery.

We don’t have to worry about getting infected if we eat chicken, turkey or duck meat that has undergone heat treatment, because the virus dies from the high temperature.

Avian flu treatment

Treatment depends on how your body reacts to the virus and what symptoms you have. In some cases, antiviral drugs are prescribed, which can help you feel better.

There is currently no approved vaccine against the virus, but Chinese scientists announced in early 2014 that they had tested a vaccine against the virus on animals. The vaccine “makes” the infected person’s immune system start producing antibodies to destroy the virus.

In most cases, antiviral drugs cannot destroy the virus, as it tends to mutate very quickly and is not affected by them.

In bird flu, the sick person is placed in an isolator to reduce the chance of spreading the infection to other people. But in more than half of the cases, the viral infection leads to death.

How to protect yourself from infection?

If there is an outbreak of the bird virus in the area where you live or if you are traveling to a country where there is such an outbreak:

• Avoid poultry farms, poultry processing plants and any plants and close contact with chickens, turkeys and ducks.

• Stay away from open markets where live birds are sold;

• Keep your hands clean by washing them with soap and water. The soap should be rubbed into the skin for at least 15 seconds to kill any germs. If you don’t have the opportunity to wash your hands, you can use wet wipes, but they must have an alcohol consistency that ensures their antibacterial effect.

• Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs. In no case do not eat omelettes or other similar alaminutes with eggs. If there is an outbreak of bird flu, eggs should be boiled for a minimum of 15 minutes, and it is even better to let them boil until the shell cracks – the surest indicator that they are cooked.

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