BIRD FLU

Bird flu is an infection caused by a certain kind of avian influenza virus. Healthcare providers are more concern of the H5N1 and H7N9 bird flu viruses.

These viruses are found in wild birds, and does not cause any symptoms. Usually bird flu virus is not passed from birds to people. But since 1997, some people have become sick with this serious, deadly kind of bird flu. Most of these infections have been in Asian countries among people who have had close contact with birds raised on farms.

What causes bird flu?

Bird flu is caused by strains of influenza virus. After a wild bird infects a farm-raised bird, the virus can easily and quickly spread among hundreds or thousands of birds. People who come into contact with sick chickens, ducks, or turkeys are more likely to get the virus.

Bird flu virus can be passed through bird droppings and saliva on surfaces such as cages, tractors, and other farm equipment.

At first, the symptoms of bird flu can be the same as common flu symptoms, such as:

  • A fever.
  • A cough.
  • A sore throat.
  • Muscle aches.

Sometimes bird flu also can cause other symptoms, such as:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • An eye infection (conjunctivitis).

Bird flu can quickly progress to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, a serious lung problem that can be deadly. For the people who die from bird flu, the average length of time from the start of symptoms until death is 9 to 10 days.

DIAGNOSIS

If your doctor thinks that you may have bird flu, he or she will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms and past health. Then your doctor may order blood tests, nasal swabs, or other tests, such as X-rays, to help find out what is making you sick.

Bird flu virus infection is usually diagnosed by collecting a swab from the nose or throat of the sick person during the first few days of illness. This specimen is sent to a lab; the laboratory looks for avian influenza A virus either by using a molecular test, by trying to grow the virus, or both.

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

CDC currently recommends oseltamivir, peramivir, or zanamivir for treatment of human infection with avian influenza A viruses. However, some evidence of antiviral resistance has been reported in HPAI Asian H5N1 viruses and influenza A H7N9 viruses isolated from some human cases. Monitoring for antiviral resistance among avian influenza A viruses is crucial and ongoing.

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