Bird Flu

Avian flu, or bird flu, refers to a group of infectious diseases caused by influenza viruses which rarely infects humans. There are more than a dozen types of bird flu have been acknowledged, which includes the two strains that have recently infected human beings H5N1 and H7N9. When bird flu does hit humans, it may be fatal. Outbreaks of bird flu affected Asia, Africa, North America and some parts of Europe. Generally people with symptoms of bird flu have had close contact with sick birds. In a few cases, bird flu has passed from one person to another. Only sporadic human cases have been reported since 2015.

What are the Symptoms of Bird Flu

Signs and symptoms of bird flu may appear within two to seven days of infection, based on the type. Generally, they are like those of usual influenza that may include:

  • A cough usually dry
  • Sore throat
  • Horse voice
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Sometimes, a mild eye infection (conjunctivitis) is the only sign of the disease.

What are the Causes of Bird Flu

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not clear, but several factors may be involved, like:

  • Touching or defeathering sick birds
  • Touching or breathing in feces and other type of secretions of infected birds
  • Preparing infected poultry for cooking
  • Slaughtering or butchering infected poultry
  • Handling birds for sale

Undercooked poultry meat or eggs from infected birds may pass on bird flu. Poultry meat or eggs are safe to eat if it's cooked properly.

Risk factors

The biggest risk factor for bird flu appears to be contact with infected birds or with surfaces infected by their feathers, saliva or droppings.


Patients with bird flu may get life-threatening complications, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Pink eye or conjunctivitis
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Heart problems

How to Diagnose Bird Flu

Early diagnosis may improve the result of treatment. After looking at the patient's signs and symptoms, and asking about any recent travel, a doctor may ask to take a respiratory specimen and send it for lab test. People must get tests within 4 to 5 days of symptoms appearing.

Imaging tests

X-rays can be useful in examining the condition of your lungs, that may help decide the right diagnosis and the best treatment alternatives for your signs and symptoms.

Treatment of Bird Flu

Antiviral medications can suppress viral replication and get better results for patients. Antivirals may avoid some cases from becoming deadly.

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can be given within 48 hours after symptoms appear, for best effect. But, as mortality rates are high, doctors can prescribe oseltamivir after this time. The dose and length of treatment depends on severity of the case. Patients with gastrointestinal issues may not be able to absorb the drug as efficiently as others. Studies suggest that some cases might be resistant to this treatment. Patients having bird flu should stay at home, or stay isolated in the hospital.

Apart from taking Tamiflu, doctors advise patients to:

  • Take proper rest
  • Drink ample amount of fluid
  • Get proper nutrition

Take medicines for pain and fever, prescribed by your doctor. Complications, like bacterial pneumonia, are common in patients with H5N1.These patients will require antibiotics, and some may require extra oxygen.

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