Bird flu

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 23.04.2024

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What is avian influenza? This is a serious disease that affects birds and then people. It is excited by the H5N1 virus, causing complex symptoms : difficulty with breathing, damage to the digestive system, and high mortality. This virus is especially dangerous, because it infects people too fast and changes too quickly, which makes all usual vaccines useless.

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Where did the bird flu come from?

It was first discovered by Italian veterinarian Perroncito in 1878. He called it chicken flu, and subsequently this disease was dubbed a chicken plague because of its high prevalence. The scientist concluded that the disease is a viral nature. The virus is called Influenza virus A, and it belongs to the influenza viruses, because it has a similar structure, as well as an antigenic kit. Then the Italian did not yet know how dangerous this virus is and how many people it will be able to hit.

More on Avian Influenza Viruses

When doctors invented the vaccine against avian influenza, they included 16 different types of hemagglutinin, which is designated by the letter H, as well as 9 different types of neuraminidase, which are denoted by the letter N in the formula of this virus.

In total, the combinations of avian influenza are as many as 144, because it is divided into subtypes. The most dangerous types of viruses for birds are H7 and H5. The virus is very susceptible to the external environment and perishes if the surface is treated with a bactericidal solution, even in small amounts. But in a cool environment, the virus lives longer.

Where does the influenza virus come from?

It is found inside birds, most often wild and predominantly ducks. At them to this type of a virus the proof immunity. But if they infect the virus of domestic ducks or chickens, they die very quickly.

Among the most common combinations of the avian influenza virus is A / H5N1. According to the forecasts of medical experts, it is this virus that can cause a pandemic all over the globe. The strain is very virulent, that is, it can spread very widely. If a person comes into contact with a sick bird or her meat, he is able to catch bird flu. Especially dangerous strain of this flu in combination with others - human and pork, then the strain of influenza changes and acquires special treachery.

More on the bird flu virus

For the first time, cases of the incidence of avian influenza in the public became known in 1997 in Hong Kong. Then the number of deaths reached more than 60%. Those people, whose manifestations of the disease were weak, did not go to the doctors, otherwise the percentage of those who died would be even higher. The most vulnerable region of the spread of avian influenza was South-East Asia.

Compared to conventional influenza, the incidence of avian influenza is certainly much lower, but the mutation of this virus causes serious concern among scientists. His possible pandemic is compared with the infamous "Spaniard", which troubled the whole world in 1918-1919. Then because of this virus, up to 100 million people died.

There are speculations of scientists that avian influenza can cause a new pandemic, which can be the culprit of more than 150 million deaths throughout the planet. Therefore, vaccination against regular influenza once a year is a logical defense against bird flu, since a specific vaccine has not been invented yet.

Symptoms of avian influenza in birds

As soon as the virus strikes the bird, the disease can take place in a latent form from 20 to 48 hours. The bird shows a clearly visible inhibition, the bird does not bear eggs, and drinks a lot. The feathers of a sick bird stick out in different directions, her eyes turn red. A beak is released from the beak, and before the bird dies, its earrings and a crest are bluish. These symptoms can be accompanied by cramps and unstable gait.

When a bird exposed to the flu is opened, the doctors notice that it has hemorrhages in the respiratory tract and on the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, as well as on the liver and kidneys.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to cure such birds - they perish. In order not to infect other birds and people sick with bird flu of individuals are destroyed.

What are the symptoms of avian flu in humans?

  • The temperature is raised to 39 degrees Celsius and above
  • The man is chilling
  • Head and muscles ache
  • There is dry cough
  • There is pharyngitis
  • Eyes red and watery, doctors diagnose conjunctivitis
  • There may be vomiting, delayed breathing, severe pneumonia, which is rapidly developing
  • Most often, the bird flu in humans ends in a lethal outcome

Doctors also observe a so-called cytokine storm in avian influenza. Cytokines are substances that secrete the body's immune system in response to the invasion of avian influenza viruses. It is noteworthy that it is the avian influenza viruses that cause so many cytokines as the body's response to the intervention of influenza pathogens. Therefore, the already listed symptoms are manifested - high fever, headache and so on. Because of the large number of cytokines, organ tissues are destroyed in the place where the infection has penetrated, therefore the body systems can be disconnected. The person dies.

Is Avian Flu Treated?

Yes, it is treated with new generation drugs that can affect most strains of influenza. This zanamivir, as well as oseltamivir (known as Tamiflu - by the name of the brand that produces it). It is not known whether other drugs can interfere with avian influenza viruses.

Avian Influenza Prevention

As we have already mentioned, the vaccine against avian flu has not yet been invented. Although scientists from all over the world work on it. Therefore, it is important to adhere to the usual methods of preventing avian influenza

  • Do not allow a child to play with birds, especially if they show signs of illness
  • Do not buy unchecked meat
  • If you keep domestic birds that suddenly died, do not touch them without gloves
  • After you have destroyed the sick bird, you need to wash your hands thoroughly and wash your clothes
  • If, after touching the bird, you develop flu symptoms, you should urgently consult a physician-therapist

Avian influenza, fortunately, is very rare in our country. But all the same, you should follow all the precautions that will allow you to stay healthy.

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