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Avian influenza and Its Prevention

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What is Avian Influenza ?

What is Avian Influenza ? A lot of people get confused when they first hear the word ” Avian “, as most people do not know as to what is the meaning of Avian!

Avian Influenza known formally as Avian flu or bird flu refers to influenza caused by viruses which birds have or are adapted too. The highest risk type influenza is the highly pathogenic avian influenza ( HPAI ). “Bird Flu” is very much similar to “swine flu”, “dog flu”, or “human flu”. Do not get confused. To put in very simple words, when a bird gets sick or catch flu it is known as “bird flu”, and if you eat a sick bird you are bound to get sick and catch the flu. Avian Influenza, for most purposes, refers to the influenza a virus. Though influenza a is adapted to birds, it can also happen from person to person transmission.

Avian Influenza strains are divided in to two types based on their pathogenecity which is HP  ( high pathogenecity ) or LP ( low patogenecity ).

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Let us dig up the history behind it!

Everything starts on a particular date but the most widely accepted year for the beginning of avian influenza  ( initial or in starting known as fowl plague ) was in  1878. In 1878, avian influenza was differentiated from other disease that caused high mortality rates in birds. Fowl plague, however, also included or showed signs of Newcastle disease until as recently as 1950’s. From 1959 to 1995, there were fifteen recorded cases of the emergence of HPAI viruses in poultry, but the losses was  not in large number. But between 1996 to 2008, HPAI outbreaks in poultry occured at least eleven to four times of these outbreaks have affected millions of birds.

In the 1990’s, the world poultry population grew to 76 % in developing countries and 23 % in developed countries which contributed to the rising of the avian influenza. Before the 1990’s, HPAI caused high mortality in poultry, but the infections were sporadic and contained. Outbreak of the avian influenza was becoming more common due to high density and frequent movement of flocks from intensive poultry production. But the human infection was first reported in 1997 in Hong Kong. Since 2003, more than seven hundred human cases of Asian HPAI H5N1 have been repoted to WHO, primarily from fifteen countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe, and the middle east, though over sixty countries have been affected so far.

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The different types of Avian Influenza

There are many sub types of Avian Influenza but only five type of this have been to effect humans and these are: H5N, H7N3, H7N7, H7N9, and H9N2.

Causes of the avian influenza

Your risk of getting the avian flu is higher, If :

  • You work with poultry ( farmer’s ).
  • Traveling in the countries where this virus is present.
  • You have touched an infected bird.
  • You have eaten under cooked  poultry meat, eggs or blood from infected birds.

Symptoms of avian influenza

Symptoms of avian influenza are as following:

  • Cough.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Fever higher than 100 degree.
  • Headache.
  • General ill feeling.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Running nose.
  • Sore throat.
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How it spreads ?

How this flu spread from one place to another. Avian influenza is most spread by contact between healthy and infected birds. The virus is found in secretions from the nostrils, mouth and eyes of the infected birds as well as their droppings.

HPAI infection is spread to people often through direct contact with infected poultry such as during slaughter or plucking.

Though the infection can spread through air borne secretion but the disease is not an air borne disease.

Although it is possible for humans to contract the avian influenza virus from birds, human-to-human contact is much more difficult without prolonged contact. However, public health officials are concerned that human-to-human transaction can prevail or start.

How can you prevent avian influenza ?

People who do not come in contact with birds regularly are not at a higher risk of getting this influenza. For example: If you do not work in a poultry farm, or eat chicken regularly.

Those who are at a higher risk include: poultry farm workers, animal control workers, wildlife biologist, and ornithologist who handle live birds.

Bio-security of poultry flocks is also important for prevention.

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Protecting the eyes, nose, mouth and hands is also important for prevention because these are the most common ways through which virus can enter into a human being body.

A person should cover himself or herself for personal protection. How can you protect yourself from this flu ? You can cover yourself with coveralls, apron, gloves, boots or boots cover, and a head cover or hair cover.

How can you treat avian influenza ?

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Oseltamivir, Peramivir, or Zanamivir should be used for the treatment of human infection with avian influenza a virus. Patients with influenza benefit from bed rest. Most patients with influenza recover in three days.

We hope you got the information you needed. So, these are the causes, symptoms and treatment of the Avian Influenza.

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