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What is Bird Flu ?

by Dr. Huma Naz
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About Bird Flu : 

Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu is a viral infection. Although it affects birds but it can also affect humans and other animals if transmitted to them.

Signs and symptoms :

Signs start beginning within seven days after getting infected. Some signs may resemble with the signs of common flu. Some symptoms of bird flu are

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Shortness of breath

Some more uncommon symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea  .

Causes :

Bird flu occurs naturally bin wild aquatic birds and from there it can spread to domestic poultry birds. If human come in contact with the saliva, feces and nasal secretion of bird, it gets transmitted to humans also. When bird flu spread, banning the sale of eggs and chicken becomes common. But the fact it that if chicken and eggs are properly cooked virus does not get transmitted to humans. But during the time of spread of bird flu, there is need to become little conscious. Humans  can get infected if they consume undercooked meat and egg of infected bird.

Risk factors :

Those who come in direct contact of birds are at higher risk. If humans come in contact with saliva , feces or other secretions of infected bird, virus will be transmitted to them. People with greater risk of infection are

  • People who eat undercooked chicken or eggs
  • Health care workers
  • Avian veterinarian
  • Poultry farmer
  • One coming in contact with infected bird
  • Family member of infected human.

Treatment :

The drugs given in bird flu are

  • Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
  • Zanamivir ( Relenza)
  • Peramivir

These drugs can help in reducing the severity but these should be given within 48 hours of appearing first symptom. It is necessary  that you must consult with the doctor as soon as possible after appearing of symptoms.

Prevention :

As prevention is better than cure. You must take necessary precautions as if you are careful ,there will be no harm .So it is necessary to take following steps to avoid bird flu.

  • Avoid contact with infected birds. Don’t go to the poultry farms as there can be infected birds along with healthy one.
  • Avoid eating undercooked poultry. Make sure that the poultry is cooked properly to avoid infection.
  • Stay away from infected person. If your family member get infected, you have to maintain distance from the person.
  • Wash your hands after if you have gone to any suspected area. It is necessary to wash hands as you might have touched anything through which virus can enter your body. So remember to wash your hands after returning from suspected areas like poultry farm, house of infected person etc
  • Eat properly boiled egg only. Raw eggs must be avoid eggs needs to be boiled properly.
  • Use mask during the time of spread of bird flu as virus can enter the body through mouth and nose.
  • Pay attention to hygiene and cleanliness.
  • If you visit zoo, keep distance from wild birds. Watch them from a distance, don’t try to go near them.

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