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Is A Bird Flu Pandemic Still Possible?

Updated on March 26, 2011

Safeguard your health and the health of your family.

The influenza pandemic of 1918 caused millions of deaths worldwide. In the event that the virus now causing Bird Flu mutates to a form that is more able to spread rapidly from human to human, there is the distinct possibility that another influenza pandemic could be imminent.

Some birds do not suffer from influenza. Although wild birds carry within them, numerous influenza viruses, they can remain quite healthy. Unfortunately, these same viruses can make domesticated birds such as turkeys, chickens, and ducks, very ill and eventually even kill them. Domesticated flocks become infected through secretions and feces, left in soil and water, by wild birds.

The so-called 'A' type of virus is the dangerous one, as this is the one that affects birds as well as humans and other animals. Bird flu is of grave concern as it is an 'A" type of influenza virus. There are many 'A" type influenza viruses but in the past bird Flu did not affect humans. This has now changed and the "A" type virus, that causes Bird Flu, is now being found in humans.

Two Important concerns have arisen. How many people will become infected, and will the virusĀ  become capable of spreading rapidly from person to person? Every year more and more domesticated birds are being found suffering from Bird Flu and millions have died or been destroyed in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.

Viruses have the ability to mutate or change. This is why every year new influenza vaccines must be developed to deal with the newer mutated form of the virus. At present, it seems that the Avian Influenza Virus is infecting only humans who have come into direct contact with infected birds or contaminated materials. So far, there are few substantiated cases of a person to person spread of the virus. The concern of the scientific community is that in the very near future further mutations of the virus could enable it to spread rapidly from person to person and potentially result in an Avian Influenza Pandemic.

The symptoms of Bird Flu are easy to ignore as they are so similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu. They may be include nothing more that a sore throat, cough, headache, diarrhea and sore muscles. However, if Bird Flu is present, breathing problems, pneumonia and organ failure may follow. If you have been in contact with potentially infected birds or their droppings or have been in an area where bird flu has been diagnosed, immediate medical attention is essential for prompt recovery.

If you are travelling abroad, avoid areas known to have outbreaks of the Bird Flu and at all times, avoid flocks of domesticated birds and markets where live birds are sold. Do not eat raw or undercooked meats or anything that contains raw eggs. Do not touch dead or dying birds.


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