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Bird flu



Chickens: one of the birds that can transmit the disease

What is - definition

Avian Influenza, also known as Chicken Flu, Bird Flu or Asian Flu is a typical bird disease. Due to its characteristics, this disease can be transmitted from birds to certain mammalian species such as the domestic cat and even the human being. So far, there is little evidence that the disease can pass from human to human.

This disease is caused by the avian influenza virus H5N1, from the same family of viruses that cause human flu, so common in the winter months.

Bird flu was first identified in the late nineteenth century in the Lombardy region (Italy). But it was not until 1955 that it was analyzed and described as a disease caused by the Influenza A virus.

Today, it is in Asia, especially China, that the disease spreads most rapidly. In Hong Kong, in 1997, 18 cases were identified, presenting severe respiratory system complications. In this situation, a simple epidemic led to the death of 33% of infected people, which means a high mortality rate for a disease. This has led health authorities in many countries to take important steps to prevent a major epidemic.

This virus also leads to rapid death in many bird species. Many animals die twenty-four hours after the initial contagion. Many chicken, geese and ducks producers can lose all production in a few days if contaminated birds are not sacrificed. In the event of a major epidemic, the commercial and financial damage caused by this disease can be high, including undermining poultry and egg production on the world market.

The fear that the disease may leave the Asian continent, spreading to the four corners of the world is great because the wild duck, the natural host of the disease, may spread the virus during the migration phase. This species of duck is very resistant to the disease and hardly has symptoms, a factor that hinders the location of the transmission routes.

Main forms of contagion in humans:

- direct contact with secretions of birds infected with avian influenza H5N1;

- through the air;

- contaminated water, food and clothing

Main symptoms of bird flu in humans:

- High fever

- body muscle pain

- breathing problems

- throat dryness

Medical research has not yet resulted in a drug that can cure a person with this disease. Some medicines may decrease the intensity of the disease and prevent contagion. Several vaccines are being tested in various laboratories.

Important: Only a doctor, through detailed and specific examinations, is able to identify if a person has bird flu. The symptoms of this type of illness are similar to those of a common flu. Therefore, anyone presenting symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

Curiosity:

- Waterfowl are natural hosts of this type of virus, but showing no symptoms.

IMPORTANT: The information on this page is only a source for research and school work. Therefore, they should not be used for medical advice. To do so, see a doctor for advice and proper treatment.