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Bird Flu (Avian Influenza, Avian Flu)

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Bird flu facts

  • Bird flu refers to strains of influenza that primarily affect wild and domesticated birds.
  • Bird flu is also known as avian flu or avian influenza.
  • Although bird flu is contagious and spreads easily among birds, it is uncommon for it to be transmitted to humans.
  • In the late 1990s, a new strain of bird flu arose which was unusually severe ("highly pathogenic"), resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions of birds, including poultry.
  • Risk factors include association with birds and poultry farms and bird feces.
  • Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, nausea; symptoms often progress to severe breathing problems, pneumonia that can result in death.
  • Definitive diagnosis requires identification of the viral strain by immunological tests.
  • Treatment may include antiviral medication and often requires intensive supportive care.
  • Control efforts, including culling infected flocks and vaccinating healthy birds, have limited the spread of highly pathogenic bird flu strains.
  • In 2011, a mutated strain of highly pathogenic bird flu appeared, H5N1, which is concerning because the existing poultry vaccines are not very effective against the H5N1 strain; in 2013, a new strain, H7N9, appeared in China.
  • Human infection with highly pathogenic strains of bird flu is uncommon, with about 622 cases reported as of March 2013 since 1997.
  • Human infection occurs primarily in people who have close contact with sick poultry in countries where the virus is found; there have been isolated cases of human-to-human transmission.
  • There is no commercially available vaccine for humans against bird flu strains; human infection with bird flu is fatal in approximately 60% of infected humans, but only a small number of humans have become infected since 1997.
  • Bird flu from the highly pathogenic strains (for example H5N1) is not found in the United States at this time in birds or humans.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/5/2013

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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/avian_influenza_bird_flu/article.htm

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