What Is Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)? Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur among birds naturally
Wild birds all over the world carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is extremely contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including ducks, turkeys, and chickens, very sick and kill them.
Do Bird Flu Viruses Infect Humans?
Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997.
The World health Organization (WHO) issued a prophetic warning in December 2004. It claimed that if bird flu (avian flu) triggered the next pandemic, the virus would likely originate in Asia. This seems to becoming a harsh reality. As of September 2005, a total of 63 people have died in Southeast Asia. 11 countries have now fallen victim, as more and more people are infected and hospitalised.
The World Health Organisation has issued a dramatic warning that bird flu will trigger an international pandemic that could kill up to seven million people.
The Spanish Influenza of 1918 or Great Influenza Pandemic was also started by a strain of bird influenza. October 2005 News
You can learn more about an exciting drug-free natural flu cure. This may also be an extremely effective bird (avian) flu natural or alternative treatment or remedy.
There is no doubt there will be another pandemic…The number of people affected will go beyond billions because between 25 percent and 30 percent will fall ill…Pandemics occur when a completely new flu strain emerges for which humans have no immunity…An influenza pandemic will spare nobody. Every country will be affected…
Klaus Stohr, World Health Organisation WHO Global Influenza Program, Source CNN
No government, no head of state can be taken unawares. It is very important for all of us to be prepared…
WHO director general Lee Jong-Wook.
He advised countries should prepare for a pandemic by stockpiling antiviral drugs and positioning them in high-risk areas; intensifying efforts in vaccine development; and planning for massive economic and social disruptions.
Remember governments and wealthy commercial companies are rapidly buying supplies and stockpiling known antiviral drugs. It is prudent to start protecting your family now by ordering drugs such as tamiflu, as pharmaceutical companies are warning that stocks are quickly being depleted.
Some scientists are so concerned about the possibility of an imminent killer-flu pandemic they have family stockpiles of antiviral drugs, just in case…
A particularly virulent strain of avian flu, known as H5N1, has already killed more than 60 people in four Asian countries since 2003…Such a virus is suspected to have caused the 1918-1919 influenza outbreak which killed about 40 million people – 1.5 per cent of the world’s population at the time…
We’re closer to a flu pandemic than we have been for many years…If it happens in Beijing today, it’ll be in New York tomorrow…
Prof Mackenzie, a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. Source “The Age”
There are many different subtypes of type A flu viruses. These subtypes differ because of certain proteins on the surface of the flu A virus (hemagglutinin [HA] and neuraminidase [NA] proteins). There are 16 different HA subtypes and 9 different NA subtypes of flu A viruses. Many different combinations of HA and NA proteins are possible. Each combination is a different subtype. All subtypes of flu A viruses can be found in birds. However, when we talk about “bird flu” viruses, we are referring to those flu A subtypes that continue to occur mainly in birds. They do not usually infect humans, even though we know they can do so. When we talk about “human flu viruses” we are referring to those subtypes that occur widely in humans. There are only three known subtypes of human flu viruses (H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2); it is likely that some genetic parts of current human flu A viruses came from birds originally. Flu A viruses are constantly changing, and they might adapt over time to infect and spread among humans.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bird Flu In Humans?
Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of bird flu may depend on which virus caused the infection.
How Does Bird Flu Spread?
Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated excretions or surfaces that are contaminated with excretions. It is believed that most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces.
How Is Bird Flu In Humans Treated?
Studies suggest that the prescription medicines approved for human flu viruses would work in preventing bird flu infection in humans. However, flu viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work.
What Is The Risk To Humans From Bird Flu?
The risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses occur mainly among birds and do not usually infect humans. However, during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry (domesticated chicken, ducks, turkeys), there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with excretions from infected birds. The current outbreak of avian influenza A (H5N1) among poultry in Asia (see below) is an example of a bird flu outbreak that has caused human infections and deaths. In such situations, people should avoid contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces, and should be careful when handling and cooking poultry.
What Is An Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus?
Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called “H5N1 virus” – is an influenza A virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds. It was first isolated from birds (terns) in South Africa in 1961. Like all bird flu viruses, H5N1 virus circulates among birds worldwide, is very contagious among birds, and can be deadly.
What Is The H5N1 Bird Flu That Has Recently Been Reported In Asia?
Outbreaks of influenza H5N1 occurred among poultry in eight countries in Asia (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam) during late 2003 and early 2004. At that time, more than 100 million birds in the affected countries either died from the disease or were killed in order to try to control the outbreak. By March 2004, the outbreak was reported to be under control. Beginning in late June 2004, however, new deadly outbreaks of influenza H5N1 among poultry were reported by several countries in Asia (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia [first-time reports], Thailand, and Vietnam). It is believed that these outbreaks are ongoing. Human infections of influenza A (H5N1) have been reported in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
What Is The Risk To Humans From The H5N1 Virus In Asia?
The H5N1 virus does not usually infect humans. In 1997, however, the first case of spread from a bird to a human was seen during an outbreak of bird flu in poultry in Hong Kong. The virus caused severe respiratory illness in 18 people, 6 of whom died. Since that time, there have been other cases of H5N1 infection among humans. Most recently, human cases of H5N1 infection have occurred in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia during large H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. The death rate for these reported cases has been about 50 percent. Most of these cases occurred from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces; however, it is thought that a few cases of human-to-human spread of H5N1 have occurred.
So far, spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been rare and spread has not continued beyond one person. However, because all influenza viruses have the ability to change, scientists are concerned that the H5N1 virus could one day be able to infect humans and spread easily from one person to another. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. If the H5N1 virus were able to infect people and spread easily from person to person, an “influenza pandemic” (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin. No one can predict when a pandemic might occur. However, experts from around the world are watching the H5N1 situation in Asia very closely and are preparing for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily and widely from person to person.
How Is Infection With H5N1 Virus In Humans Treated?
The H5N1 virus currently infecting birds in Asia that has caused human illness and death is resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, two antiviral medications commonly used for influenza. Two other antiviral medications, oseltamavir (tamiflu ®) and zanamavir, would probably work to treat flu caused by the H5N1 virus, though studies still need to be done to prove that they work. 2005 Update: Current research is proving successful.
In 1999, The US Food and Drug Administration approved these two new drugs that are effective for the treatment of both influenza A and influenza B. These drugs, called neuraminidase inhibitors, block the normal function of the viral neuraminidase.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funded this mice research in mid – 2005 and the results are published online in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. British researchers reported finding H5N1 flu virus in the spinal fluid of a young boy who died of influenza in Vietnam earlier in the year 2005, an indication that H5N1 is able to infect the human brain.