Information on Avian Flu

 By: Peter Hutch
Avian flu is caused due to the H5N1 virus which is transmitted from the saliva, fecal matter of the birds. The disease is highly contagious and causes death of birds and poultry population. The virus is lethal and assumes the proportion of pandemic, which can wipe out the entire population of birds and poultry. The virus also spreads to the human beings if they are in contact with the sick bird or poultry. Human beings are also afflicted by the virus which can even be life threatening.

Influenza, commonly called "the flu," is an illness caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. Compared with most other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, influenza (flu) infection often causes a more severe illness with a mortality rate (death rate) of about 0.1% of people who are infected with the virus. Unusually severe worldwide outbreaks (pandemics) have occurred several times in the last 100 years since influenza virus was identified in 1933.

Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

The Facts on Avian Influenza

Avian influenza is a type of influenza or "flu" that occurs in all species of birds. The virus that causes avian influenza - more commonly called "bird flu" - exists naturally in many wild birds, including wild waterfowl, without causing the condition in them; these birds are called carriers. Normally, the virus is associated with birds raised on poultry farms and less often, with pigs.

Cause and Risk Factors

Bird flu is caused by infection with one of the avian influenza viruses. People who handle or have other contact with infected birds (e.g., farm workers) are at increased risk for developing the disease. People who live in or travel to affected areas of the world (e.g., Asia, and parts of Africa and Europe), health care providers in these areas, and household members of infected patients are also at increased risk.

When a bird is infected with bird flu, it sheds the flu virus in its faeces. Other birds then become infected by inhaling or eating the virus. The virus can also infect you if you inhale dried faeces that has become trampled into the dust or stuck to the feathers or other parts of the body of the infected bird. You are usually infected with bird flu when preparing poultry for cooking rather than by eating it.

Symptoms

Flu symptoms and treatment vary depending on what kind of flu you may have. Fever is a common symptom when you have the flu and so are headaches, muscular aches and lethargy or being extremely tired. Other types of flu may cause runny noses and other cold like symptoms. Stomach flu has nausea, diarrhea and vomiting as common symptoms. Since flu symptoms and treatment varies depending on what type of flu you may have, you need to be more familiar with the symptoms of the different kinds of flu.
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