The Bird Flu
Avian Flu first emerged in China in 1996 and in 1997 caused a large outbreak in Hong Kong that killed six people. Scientists believe genetic mutations of H5N1 have allowed easier infection of mammals. This was in 2005 when this was considered and now in 2011 this may be a reality. As of August 29, 2011 the UN warns Avian Flu is back and this new strain is resistant to vaccines.
Viruses are opportunistic and given enough time this virus can become highly infectious among the human population and spread easily from person to person. The main risk is when we come into contact with a bird that has the virus. It can go unchecked due to the fact it cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone. Therefore, collecting a swab from the nose or throat during the first few days of illness and sending it to a laboratory for testing is key to a proper diagnosis. Another concern is that viruses mutate and become resistant to drugs. Another thing to ponder over is that we have not built up an immune to this virus.
Fact: flu shots will not protect you from Avian Influenza.
Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine for the bird flu in 2007. However, the vaccine is not made available to the public. It has been reported that there are over 14 million doses of the drug kept in the United States government stockpile in case of a pandemic
In regards to humans most contract avian flu as a result of either handling dead infected birds or with infected fluids. Domesticated birds such as chickens or turkeys are infected, become much more deadly and easily spreads due to their closeness to each other. Although it is easy for humans to become infected from birds, it's much more difficult to do so from human to human contact.
Symptoms and Treatment
A cough, fever, muscle aches and a sore throat. Also an individual may have an eye infection. Take care of yourself because this flu can quickly develop into acute respiratory distress syndrome. It can develop into pneumonia. Since these symptoms are like other flu viruses, and individuals should seek medical help.
Treatment for the bird flu is important because this virus can be life threatening. Antiviral medications are used to treat bird flu patients. These medications cannot cure the bird flu, but they can make the symptoms less severe.
- Clean cutting boards, utensils with soap and hot water to keep raw poultry from contaminating other foods.
- Cook eggs until whites and yolks are firm.
- Use food thermometer and cook poultry to a temperature of at least 165 degrees.
- And of course wash your hands.
To keep up with the Avian Influenza and other outbreaks the Center for Disease Control is the best place to keep informed. Click here to go to their website, Center for Disease Control.
For Avian flu updates: CDC Avian Flu.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations