Bird Flu – Transmission, Symptoms and Treatment

Bird flu is also called avian influenza, or avian flu and it is an infection caused by influenza viruses. These viruses occur naturally in birds. While wild birds can carry this virus and spread it, they are usually immune to it, in the sense that they do not get sick. The situation is quite different when it comes to domestic birds. Some domesticated birds, like ducks, turkeys and chickens can become infected with this virus and die. Bird flu is highly contagious among birds.

This flu is easily transmitted among birds. Here’s how: the birds that are infected usually shed the bird flu virus in their own saliva, in the bird poop and in the nasal secretions. When the birds that can get infected, because not all of them can, come into contact with the infected saliva or secretions or with the surfaces that have been contaminated by such secretions, they become infected too. So even dirt in cages is really dangerous because it infects the surfaces. Also food or water can become infected: if a healthy bird eats together with a sick one or a carrier, chances are that the healthy bird becomes sick too.

The mild form of this flu can sometimes go undetected: the infected birds only have ruffled feathers and produce fewer eggs. But there is also a highly pathogenic form of the bird flu and it spreads fast. This serious form of bird flu can affect the birds’ internal organs and its mortality rate is of almost 100 percent. The sick birds usually die within 48 hours.

While in the beginning it was believed that the H5N1 virus can not spread to humans, in the meantime, advanced medical research has proven otherwise. Some of the symptoms are: sore throat, coughing, fever, conjunctivitis, muscular pain. This is a very severe disease for humans too, as it can result into the person’s death within 9 days. Every time it bursts, bird flu is even more serious because of the genetic mutations that occur within the virus structure.
The best known drug against the bird flu is Tamiflu, made and sold by a well known pharmaceutical company. It has been sold and used in large quantities worldwide and it is quite effective. On the other hand, there are other drugs against the flu, which are less expensive. They contain amantadine and rimantadine. The influenza vaccine also known as the flu shot is an annual vaccine. While the vaccine is quite effective, it does not offer 100% protection, especially because the bird flu virus suffers mutations each year. Vaccination is especially recommended to high risk patients like children, teenagers and old people as well as pregnant women who can develop pregnancy complications on account of the bird flu and its treatment.