Bird Flue

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Bird flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that rarely infects humans.

Symptoms

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

When to see a doctor

See your doctor immediately if you develop a fever, cough and body aches and have recently traveled to a part of the world where bird flu occurs. Be sure to let your doctor know if you visited any farms or open-air markets.

Causes

  • Bird flu occurs naturally in wild waterfowl and can spread into domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. The disease is transmitted via contact with an infected bird’s feces, or secretions from its nose, mouth or eyes.
  • Open-air markets, where eggs and birds are sold in crowded and unsanitary conditions, are hotbeds of infection and can spread the disease into the wider community.
  • Undercooked poultry meat or eggs from infected birds can transmit bird flu. Poultry meat is safe to eat if it’s been cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F (74 C). Eggs should be cooked until the yolks and whites are firm.

Complications

People with bird flu may develop life-threatening complications, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Collapsed lung
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Heart problems

Tests and diagnosis

Laboratory tests

Samples of fluids from your nose or throat can be tested for evidence of bird flu virus. These samples must be taken within the first few days after symptoms appear.

Imaging tests

X-rays may be useful in assessing the condition of your lungs, which can help determine the proper diagnosis and the best treatment options for your signs and symptoms.

Treatments and drugs

Many influenza viruses have become resistant to the effects of a category of antiviral drugs that includes amantadine and rimantadine. Health officials recommend the use of oseltamivir or, if oseltamivir can’t be used, zanamivir. These drugs must be taken within two days after the appearance of symptoms.

Prevention

Bird flu vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration has approved one vaccine to prevent infection with one strain of H5N1 bird flu virus. This vaccine isn’t available to the public.

Recommendations for travelers

    • Avoid domesticated birds.
    • Wash your hands.

 

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