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Avian Flu Is A Potential Pandemic

Aug 17, 2007
Will the avian flu cause a disaster similar to the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed more than fifty million people in the world?

Avian flu or avian influenza is spreading at an alarming rate and it is believed that if it continues its flight, it has the potential to cause another major pandemic around the world. This time, it is estimated that up to one hundred and fifty million people may die.

Avian flu is a disease caused by a specific type of avian or bird influenza virus. Scientists have discovered that there are fifteen types of avian flu viruses that affect the bird populace. The current outbreak of avian flu is caused by the H5N1 virus.

Although the avian flu virus is supposed to be typically affecting the birds, the nature of this flu virus is that it can mutate and transfer from one species to another. The avian flu virus that has been killing birds previously is now affecting human beings too. Those people who have been affected contacted the disease because they were unhygienic in handling infected poultry.

The H5N1 virus has been found to be highly contagious and it can be transmitted to human beings through the contact of excretal or nasal secretions from infected birds. In addition, if the avian flu mutates and joins with a human flu virus, it will be transmitted easily from one person to another. If not detected and treated early, it can become fatal. The deadly avian flu virus is highly infectious and if it spreads rapidly, it will cause rapid fatalities to the human species.

This virus was first discovered in Hong Kong in 1997. It was spread by infected migratory birds such as wild ducks, swallows and wild geese to domesticated fowls like chicken, ducks, geese, turkeys and eventually affecting human beings too. A number of countries have confirmed human deaths due to avian flu and the figures have been constantly on the rise. Apparently, the avian flu virus has infected several hundred people and killing at least one hundred and fifty of them. It has also spread to a number of other countries such as Cambodia, mainland China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The lethal H5N1 virus has caused the death or culling of an estimated two hundred million birds over a widespread of countries such as Cambodia, China (including Hong Kong), Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Thailand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.

When infected with the pathogenic H5N1 virus, the birds may develop severe sicknesses such as respiratory diseases and they usually die within the same day. Other telltale symptoms are loss of appetite, diarrhea, nervousness and depression as well as a reduction in egg production and ruffled feathers.

As prevention is the best cure, the precautionary measures initiated by the various affected countries helps in curbing aggravation.

At poultry farms, once a bird is infected, it must be culled immediately and the others properly vaccinated. While the owners are to routinely send randomly selected birds to the nearest avian lab for thorough check-ups, all of their workers must be properly covered when handling the fowls so as to avoid any direct contacts with infected birds.

It is believed that the avian flu virus cannot survive in temperatures above 100C. As such, all poultry products must be cooked thoroughly and properly. In addition, it is important to wash one's hands with soap and hot water before food preparation and meals or after coming in contact with raw poultry products.

Although two drugs, Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) are found to be effective against the deadly avian flu virus if taken within forty-eight of occurrence of first symptoms, no preventive drugs has yet been discovered against the H5N1 virus.

Avian flu infection in human beings portrays common flu symptoms such as cough, fever, headache, sore throat and muscle aches or pains. These may then progress to life threatening complications such as severe chest pains, breathing difficulties, respiratory failure and viral pneumonia. However, at times, the only symptom that an affected person has is an eye infection such as conjunctivitis, which can be mistaken to be ordinary sore eyes. As such, there may be misconceptions on whether the person has ordinary flu or the life-threatening avian flu.

The avian flu is certainly a potential pandemic threat to humanity and has to be addressed globally. As prevention has always been the best cure, the temporary solution is to maintain a healthy and hygienic lifestyle all the time.
About the Author
Article by Ske Chay of http://www.mccbirds.com
Providing useful information on Avian Flu
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