What is Bird flu and precautions? All you need to know about Bird Flu H5N1.

What is Bird Flu?

Bird Flu is a highly infectious disease caused by Influenza Type A Virus which affects the Poultry. Strains of the influenza virus that primarily infect birds, but can also infect humans. This type of flu is most often contracted by contact with sick birds. It can also be passed from person to person.

Bird flu symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of bird flu may begin within two to seven days of infection, depending on the type.

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath

Who all are at risk?

People most at risk for severe seasonal influenza are:

  • pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • children younger than 5 years
  • people older than 65 years
  • people with chronic medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, heart and lung diseases and diabetes
  • people with increased risk of exposure to influenza, which includes health care workers.

How is it spread ?

  1. Migratory aquatic birds are the carriers of Influenza Type A Virus and shed in it their stools. 
  2. In this way it is spread in other birds and every so often to mammals such as pig, horse cats and dogs.

Precautions ?

If you’re traveling to Southeast Asia or to any region with bird flu outbreaks, consider these public health recommendations:

  • Avoid domesticated birds. If possible, avoid rural areas, small farms and open-air markets.
  • Wash your hands. This is one of the simplest and best ways to prevent infections of all kinds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol when you travel.
  • Ask about a flu shot. Before traveling, ask your doctor about a flu shot. It won’t protect you specifically from bird flu, but it may help reduce the risk of simultaneous infection with bird and human flu viruses.

Important Note :

Because heat destroys avian viruses, cooked chicken isn’t a health risk. Even so, it’s best to take precautions when handling and preparing chicken , which may be contaminated with harmful bacteria.

  • Wash thoroughly- Use hot  water to wash chopping boards, utensils and all areas that have come into contact with raw chicken
  • Cook thoroughly. Cook chicken until the juices are removed , and it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 F (74 C).
  • Reject raw Eggs- Because eggshells are often contaminated with bird poop, avoid foods containing raw or undercooked eggs.

How is it treated?

People with the flu should drink plenty of water and rest. Most people will recover within a week. Antiviral drugs for influenza can reduce severe complications and deaths although influenza viruses can develop resistance to the drugs. They are especially important for high-risk groups. Ideally these drugs need to be administered early (within 48 hours of onset of symptoms). Antibiotics are not effective against influenza viruses.


Inputs from – Indian Express

Inputs from – WHO



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