WHAT IS IT?
Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds. Avian influenza viruses are caused by the influenza (flu) Type A. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide. Wild aquatic birds usually do not get sick. The birds that are host to the flu Type A are gulls, terns, wild ducks, geese and swans. Domestic poultry, other birds and other animal species can become infected. Human infections are possible but they are rare and the viruses do not spread easily to other people. Illnesses in humans range from mild to severe. Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H7N9 and high pathogenic avian flu (HPAI) Asian H5N1 have been responsible for most human illnesses to date.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Sore Throat
- Muscle Aches
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal Pain
- Neurological changes
Symptoms can be different between the strains of Avian flu a person is infected with.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
Depending on the type of flu that is circulating, there may be a vaccine. Oseltamivir, peramivir, or zanamivir is the treatment of human infection with flu Type A viruses.
Flu Type A viruses does not normally infect humans. Infected birds shed avian influenza virus in their saliva, mucous and feces. Human infections can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose mouth, or lungs. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure.
- People should avoid contact with domestic birds that appear ill,
- Avoid contact with surfaces that may be contaminated with feces from wild or domestic birds
- Only observe wild birds from a distance.
- Poultry employees should always wear personal protective equipment (PPE), especially when their work involves killing the chickens.
If you are traveling to countries with flu Type A outbreaks, you can help prevention by:
- Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid preparing or eating raw or undercooked poultry products. Cook all poultry products to 165°F (74°C).
- Avoid visiting poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where birds are raised, kept, or sold.
- Being up-to-date on all immunization shots and gets any additional shots 4 to 6 weeks before traveling.
- Seeing a doctor if you become sick during or after travel.
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