Avian (bird) flu is a type of influenza caused by viruses found in birds. The flu is similar to those that infect dogs, pigs, and humans. The USDA recently reported avian flu 2022 deaths to be over 22.8 million. As of Q1 2022, more than 20 US states are dealing with bird flu outbreaks.
What Causes Avian Flu?
An infection present in wild aquatic birds causes avian flu. This type ‘A’ influenza spreads from wild birds to poultry. Most poultry birds can spread the flu to other animals and humans if infected.
Unsanitary handling of sick birds usually causes bird flu infections in humans. Open-air markets of poultry is another major cause of bird flu infections.
What are Common Avian Flu Symptoms?
Avian flu shows different symptoms in animals and humans. Symptoms of bird flu in birds and humans are different.
Common avian flu chicken symptoms
The most common bird flu symptoms in chickens include:
– Swollen head
– Blue comb and wattle
– Low egg production
– Respiratory illness
Common avian flu symptoms in humans
Main symptoms of bird flu in humans are:
– Shortness of breath
– Red eye infection
– Abdominal pain
– Respiratory problems
– Sore throat
– Muscle ache
Most symptoms of bird flu in humans become obvious at a late stage. Currently, several types of bird flu does not affect humans. However, these strains are deadly to most domestic birds.
How Does Avian Flu Spread?
– Avian flu quickly spreads from infected to healthy birds, even with short-term contact.
– Infected birds easily transmit avian flu across the entire flock.
– Avian influenza spreads to humans when they handle unhealthy birds. Humans could get infected with avian flu during slaughtering of infected birds.
– Avian flu also spreads from birds to humans when people get exposed to droppings of infected birds.
– Long contact with a person infected with avian flu is a major spreader of the virus among humans.
– Avian flu spreads through illegal and legal poultry trades from Asia to Europe.
– Major poultry trade routes transmit avian flu among different bird and animal species.
Avian Flu and Humans: Major Stats
6 out of 10 humans infected with the H5N1 virus are likely to die.
Currently, H5N1 and H7N9 are the two most dangerous avian flu strains to humans. Mortality rates among people diagnosed with H5N1 is over 50, while H7N9 mortality is over 35%.
Four continents have recorded avian flu outbreaks among humans since 1996
Is There a Vaccine for Avian Flu?
Vaccines for humans
In 2007, the FDA approved a vaccine that prevents bird flu infection. Only the US government currently has access to stockpiles of this vaccine.
The CDC recommends oseltamivir and zanamivir to prevent and treat avian flu infections. Currently, no vaccine exists to protect humans against H7N9 avian flu.
Vaccines for birds
The WHO recommends QI01AA23 and QI01CL01 vaccines for treating avian flu in birds.
What are the Steps to Prevent Avian Flu Spread and Infection?
Several preventive measures are effective in containing the spread of avian flu. These steps include the following:
Isolate poultry from contact with wild birds. Poultry operators should protect birds from contact with outside animals.
Birds in slaughter channels should never return to the farm.
Regular disinfection of poultry transport vehicles. Poultry farms should not share transport vehicles to avoid spreading the flu.
People at risk of bird flu infection should use correct protective equipment
Proper handling of poultry during and after slaughter helps prevent avian flu infection.
Thorough hand washing after touching uncooked poultry birds
165°F (74°C) proper heating of poultry meat and eggs for consumption
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