Mere mention of these two words ‘Bird Flu’ gives chills to our body and floods our memories with the 2006 bird flu outbreak that claimed life of hundreds. Bird flu also known as Avian Influenza is one of the most dreadful diseases of all times and this is the prime reason that we just can’t ‘ignore’ it in any way. Statistics show that around 60% of the people who suffered from bird flu have grieved death.
Bird flu as the name suggests is a flu infection found in birds (and sometimes pig) which is caused by aninfluenza virus. It is highly communicable disease which not only spreads like a fire from one bird to other bird but also from birds to humans. The first case of humans being infected by bird flu was reported in Hong Kong in 1997.
The principal reason behind why the whole world and even the doctors were panicking when bird flu started spreading is because they were afraid that this bird flu might transmute into a new threatening form which can rapidly spread from person to person and is known as pandemic. The strain of bird flu is called as H5N1 and is extremely dangerous not only for birds but also for human beings.
People who come in direct contact with the infected birds, farmers who work in poultry farms, travellers who visit affected countries or those who accidentally eat undercooked or raw meat or eggs from an infected bird are most likely to suffer from this disease. Health care takers dealing with avian influenza infected patients (without taking necessary precautions) are also at a high risk of getting infected with bird flu.
In order to identify with this disease, look for symptoms of a characteristic flu like cough, very high fever (above 100°F), sore throat, diarrhoea, breathing problems, headache, muscle aches, runny nose, breathing problem, and malaise. H5N1 was also observed to have infused symptoms of eye infection pneumonia and severe coughing & breathing problem in some cases.
So if you notice these symptoms in you then immediately get yourself tested. With the advancement in science and technology, you can now get yourself diagnosed for the presence of this virus in your body within a short period of 4 hours unlike older tests that used to take at least 3 days for diagnosis.
In case your tests are positive for H5N1 flu, don’t panic, medical science is always at your service. Many effective treatments have been discovered for bird flu; some of them help curb the effect of symptoms and some help cure/ prevent the disease.
Doctors generally suggest antiviral medications for reducing the effect of symptoms. However, amantadine and rimantadine antiviral medications are ineffective against avian flu. Oseltamivir may be recommended for people who stay with people infected from bird flu. In case a person is severely infected with the bird flu, he might need to me admitted in hospital and should be kept on a breathing machine. He should be kept in isolation to prevent the virus from spreading to others. Influenza shot also called as flu shot may be practiced to inhibit the mixing of flu virus with human virus which gives birth to a new virus which spreads very effortlessly at a speed faster than light. A vaccine has already been introduced to defend humans from bird flu and also one for preventing the spreading of H5N1 virus from one person to another person. So hats off to the scientists who invented these vaccines for us.
Take necessary precautions like: Avoid travelling to countries struck with bird flu; if you are taking care of infected people or dealing with birds, make sure you take all the necessary precautions like wearing special breathing masks, wearing protective clothing and keeping yourself as well as the surroundings sterilised; never eat undercooked or raw meat.
Don’t forget that this disease might prove fatal and so should not be taken lightly in any case. Immediately seek medical advice in case of any doubts or discrepancies with your health. A small delay can make you regret for the rest of your life.