Chickens and other poultry
main culprits in
transmission of bird flu.
Warnings of the Asian bird flu, the newest
strain of the flu, first appeared in areas around Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam in the late
virus is a type of avian influenza virus. It is called that because the disease is primarily
found in birds. Chicken, ducks, geese and other domestic poultry birds
can be infected with the virus.
once believed it was impossible for humans to catch the Avian bird
flu, but the flu virus proved very able at adapting to infect
new hosts. A small outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 announced
that the Avian Influenza A virus had made the necessary changes
to infect humans.
The H5N1 bird flu strain has since killed 360 people worldwide, mostly after contact with infected fowl. By 2012, outbreaks of bird flu were still being reported in China, India, the UK,
and other areas where humans are in close proximity to poultry farms.
According to the World Health Organization since March 2013 a particularly dangerous strain of H7N9 flu has infected 108 people in China, with additional cases reported in Taiwan.
The H7N9 virus has been called "one of the most lethal" of its kind and transmits more easily to humans that any strain yet seen. Most worrisome to health officials is the strain's ability to remain undetected as it seems to cause few symptoms in the early stages.
Bird flu symptoms and treatment
Symptoms of bird flu in humans are typical of any flu. Some people have a fever with
a cough, sore throat, and muscle aches associated with a bout of the flu. Eye infections
and pneumonia are also common complications. In the most severe cases there may be extremely
high fevers, difficulty breathing - and other life threatening
Treatment and prevention of bird flu usually calls for antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) which are highly recommended for both prevention and treatment although with the latest H7N9 strain even these have been less effective than in the past.
Of course, the best preventative begins with avoiding exposure to live poultry farms where the virus is likely to be most prevalent.
Information on Avian Influenza - Find everything from the most basic questions through
the most common symptoms, alerts and information for health professionals at this guide from the Centers for Disease Control. The focus is on US resources, but the up-to-date information on research and treatments is valid across borders. They also provide resources with links to other quality sites for additional information and updates.
Avian flu (bird flu) - From the NHS, this UK information resources offers a wealth of information on outbreaks, symptoms and treatment, travel advice, photos, video presentations, and related resources.
WHO - Avian flu updates - Get the latest information from the World Health Organization on bird flu outbreaks in Asia, the Middle East and around the world
This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice. All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.