Bird flu officially known as avian influenza is a disease caused by infections from birds known as influenza flu type A virus. Influenza A is a seasonal epidemic virus or outbreak of a disease that can strike a group of people in a community at once and the virus can also be spread to other region, communities or countries. There are many strains of bird flu viruses with at least 15 subtypes of influenza A have been identified. Bird flu generally does not infect humans but two subtypes of influenza A viruses can be transmitted to the human population which is influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2). Find doctor may assist you to find a valid information and knowledge of the bird flu virus and hence prevent the possibility to be infected in the future.

History of bird flu

Avian influenza was first documented in 1997 in Hong Kong which is transmitted in chickens and people. The news has been prevalent across the country and has attracted global attention following the death of six people by the massive outbreaks. Their government has taken an initiative by conducted a mass slaughter of chickens and introduced vaccination for birds with inoculation of the inactivated H5N1 injection. The first H5N1 outbreak in Malaysia was detected in Kelantan in 2004, but no human deaths were confirmed following by 2006 and 2007 in KL and Selangor. On 17th June 2009, Malaysia recorded its first local case infection of influenza A, H1N1 involving the 19th case which had no history of traveling to a nation where the virus was present. Malaysia had not experienced an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak since then but the virus again has been identified in 2017 at a private veterinarian in Kota Bharu, Kelantan which has struck backyard chickens.

How does bird flu infects the bird

Wild aquatic water birds are the reservoirs or hosts for bird flu influenza A viruses for example ducks, geese, and swans. Avian influenza A viruses are carried in the intestines and respiratory tracts of wild aquatic birds which are highly infectious and easily transmitted among their species. Some of the strains can cause serious illness and death in domestic poultry such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys although they rarely become ill. Avian influenza A transmits the virus through saliva, nasal secretions, and feces of the infected birds. The susceptible birds can get infected if they come in direct contact with the infected bird and they also can potentially catch the virus by touching a contaminated surfaces.

How does bird flu infects human

Human infections with bird flu viruses may happen but the occurence is rare. Bird flu can infect people through direct contact, touching contaminated surface and air droplet or inhalation. This possibly can happen if the virus is in the air or when the person touches contaminated surface and then accidentally touch their mouth, eyes or nose. A person who is infected with bird flu has the likelihood to develop pneumonia and acute respiratory stress disorder and the situation can be fatal. There are certain places has a high chance of transmissibility such as markets that sell live birds that can be the origin of bird flu spread. If you are travelling to a country where bird flu cases has been reported, stay away from their market. Fortunately, up to date no case of bird flu infections to human have been reported by eating through a proper handling or from properly cooked poultry meat.

Symptoms of bird flu

The symptoms of bird flu is similar to other flu-like symptoms which appear after 3-4 days being infected with the virus with the following signs:

  • Very high fever
  • Shivery
  • Muscles ache
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest
  • Pain
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat

Treatment for bird flu

To date, there is no vaccine for bird flu. If a person were infected, the patient is advised to stay at home or isolated  at the hospital. Sometimes they would be treated with an antiviral medicines such as oseltamivir or known as Tamiflu and zanamivir or known as Relenza. The treatments help to reduce the severity of the symptoms, prevent serious complications and increase the chances of survival rate.