Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects birds. However, its impact extends far beyond our feathered friends. As a concerned poultry owner or enthusiast, it is crucial to recognize the dangers posed by avian influenza and take proactive measures to safeguard your family and your flock.
In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the intricate details of avian influenza, explore its implications, and equip you with essential knowledge to protect your family and your birds from this devastating disease.
Avian influenza is caused by various strains of the influenza A virus, primarily the H5N1 and H7N9 subtypes. These viruses can be transmitted through direct contact with infected birds, their bodily fluids, or contaminated environments.
While avian influenza does not typically affect humans, certain strains have demonstrated the potential to cross species barriers, leading to severe illness and even fatalities.
Avian influenza is an infectious disease caused by a type A influenza virus transmitted from poultry to humans. There are many types of bird flu viruses, but only a few can cause infection in humans.
Bird flu has outbreaks in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, as well as parts of Europe, and caused deaths in some sufferers. According to world health organization (WHO) data, the H5N1 bird flu virus has infected 861 people worldwide and caused 455 deaths by 2019.
Avian Influenza Transmission: How Does It Spread?
Avian influenza spreads through both direct and indirect contact. Birds infected with the virus shed it in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Other birds can contract the virus by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or through inhalation of infected particles.
Migratory birds are often carriers of avian influenza, contributing to the rapid spread across vast distances.
Avian influenza Caused By
Bird flu is caused by a type A influenza virus infection originating from birds. Most types of bird flu virus can only attack and be contagious in poultry, both wild poultry and farm poultry, such as chickens, ducks, geese, and birds. However, there are several types of bird flu viruses that can infect humans, namely H5N1, H5N6, H5N8, and H7N9.
Bird flu viruses can infect humans in the event of direct contact with poultry infected with this virus. Some conditions that can increase the risk of being infected with bird flu virus are:
- Touching infected poultry, whether alive or dead
- Touching feces, saliva, and mucus, from infected poultry
- Inhale a splash of respiratory fluid (droplet) containing the virus
- Eating raw and uncooked infected poultry meat or eggs.
Interhuman transmission is also suspected to occur, but it is not yet clear what the mechanisms and ways of transmission can be. A person is more at risk of being infected with bird flu virus if they have the following factors:
- Works as a poultry farmer
- Works as a medical team treating bird flu sufferer.
- Have family members suffering from bird flu
- Go to the area or place of bird flu infection
- Being close to infected poultry
- Frequent consumption of uncooked poultry meat or eggs.
Avian Influenza Symptoms
When a person contracted a virus caused by bird flu, he or she will experience various symptoms. Symptoms can be mild, can be severe which can potentially put lives at risk. Here are some of the symptoms of bird flu that may be experienced by the sufferer:
- Abdominal pain.
- High fever.
- Muscle pain.
- Respiratory distress.
- Bleeding gums.
- Chest pain.
Avian Influenza Diagnosis
To diagnose bird flu the doctor will perform several methods. In the early stages, the doctor will conduct medical interviews and medical examinations. After that, the doctor will also perform a supporting examination by taking a fluid sample from the nose or throat.
The criteria for diagnosis of this flu are as follows:
- The symptoms of acute respiratory tract infection within 7 days and having contact with people diagnosed with H1N1 virus.
- There are symptoms of acute respiratory tract infection within 7 days, with a history of traveling to areas that are widely infected with the H1N1 virus.
- Acute respiratory tract infections occur in a person living in a community where at least one person is shown to have the H1N1 virus.
It doesn’t close the possibility that the doctor will also have a blood test. The goal is to know the level of white blood cells in the patient’s body. In some cases, the doctor will also perform an X-ray test to see the condition of the patient’s lungs.
Avian Influenza Prevention: Key Measures for Protection
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to avian influenza. Here are some essential strategies to minimize the risk of infection:
Implement rigorous biosecurity protocols to prevent contact between your birds and potentially infected wild birds or contaminated environments. This includes maintaining restricted access to your premises, disinfecting equipment, and monitoring visitors.
Consult with a veterinarian to determine if vaccination is a suitable option for your flock. Vaccines can provide an additional layer of protection against specific strains of avian influenza.
c. Quarantine and Isolation
Introduce new birds to your flock only after a period of quarantine and observation. Isolating any sick or suspected birds immediately will help contain the spread of the virus.
Avian Influenza Treatment
Bird flu can be treated by doing the following:
- Enough rest to increase endurance
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Take flu medications that can be purchased freely at pharmacies
H1N1 treatment generally does not require special treatment, unless flu complications arise. Two recommended antiviral drugs to cope with this type of flu are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). However, the risk of viral resistance to the drug is increasing, so it should only be given to people at high risk.
Sufferers of young old persons and no abnormalities in their immune system do not need the drug, because the virus can be cured by itself by the immune system.
To reduce symptoms, it can also take fever-lowering drugs, cough / cold medicines, and pain killers.
Avian Influenza and Public Health: What You Need to Know
Although human cases of avian influenza are relatively rare, certain strains have caused severe illness and even death in individuals who came into direct contact with infected birds. It is crucial to handle infected birds with extreme caution and follow proper hygiene practices to prevent transmission to humans.
FAQs about Avian Influenza
Can avian influenza be transmitted through consumption of poultry products?
No, properly cooked poultry products are safe to consume as the cooking process destroys the avian influenza virus.
Is it safe to keep backyard chickens in areas affected by avian influenza outbreaks?
With proper biosecurity measures in place, backyard flocks can be protected from avian influenza. However, it is important to stay informed about local outbreaks and follow recommendations from health authorities.
What are the treatment options for birds infected with avian influenza?
There are currently no specific antiviral treatments available for avian influenza in birds. Supportive care, such as providing fluids and ensuring proper nutrition, is essential to aid their recovery.
Avian influenza poses a significant threat to the health and well-being of birds worldwide. By understanding the transmission, symptoms, prevention strategies, and the potential impact on public health, we can take necessary precautions to mitigate the risks associated with this disease.
Remember, protecting your flock from avian influenza requires a proactive approach, meticulous biosecurity measures, and adherence to recommended guidelines. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and safeguard your birds from this silent menace.