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Bird Flu - Symptoms, Causes and Prevention in Pakistan

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Summary about Bird Flu

Bird Flu is also called avian influenza. It is a viral infection that affects birds, humans and other animals, but most forms of this virus affect only birds. The most prevalent kind of avian flu is H5N1. It is lethal to birds and may quickly infect people and other animals that come into touch with a carrier. According to the World Health Organization, H5N1 was first identified in humans in 1997 and has killed almost 60% of those infected.
The virus is not yet known to transmit via human-to-human contact. Nonetheless, some scientists are concerned that H5N1 may become a pandemic danger to humans.

Symptoms of Bird Flu

The bird flu symptoms are pretty similar to the common flu symptoms. So, if you have flu-like symptoms, you may have H5N1.

  • diarrhoea
  • respiratory difficulties
  • cough
  • malaise
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • fever (over 100.4°F or 38°C)
  • headache
  • muscle aches

Causes of Bird Flu

Although there are many kinds of bird flu, H5N1 was the first avian influenza virus to infect humans. The initial infection occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. The epidemic was traced down to handling contaminated chickens.
H5N1 occurs naturally in wild ducks, but it may readily spread to domestic poultry. The illness is spread to people via contact with contaminated bird excrement, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.
Consuming properly cooked chicken or eggs from sick animals does not spread the bird flu, although eggs should never be served runny. Meat is deemed safe if it has been cooked to an internal temperature of 165oF (73.9oC).

Risk Factors of Bird Flu

H5N1 is capable of surviving for long periods. H5N1-infected birds may shed the virus in their faeces and saliva for up to 10 days. Touching infected surfaces has the potential to transmit the illness.

You are more likely to develop H5N1 if you are:

  • a poultry farmer
  • a tourist visiting affected regions
  • who has come into contact with sick birds
  • someone who consumes raw chicken or eggs
  • a healthcare professional who is in charge of infected patients
  • a member of an infected person's household

Preventive Measures of Bird Flu

The bird flu can be prevented by opting for the following

  • avoiding open-air market
  • avoiding contact with infected birds
  • properly cook your poultry
  • practice good hygiene and wash your hands regularly
  • avoid visiting localities with prevalent cases of bird flu

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