Bird flu

What is avian influenza (bird flu) H5N1?

H5N1 is an avian influenza virus subtype Avian influenza is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, avian influenza is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them. (CDC, 2006)

How do people become infected with avian influenza viruses?

Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from direct or close contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretions and excretions from infected birds. The spread of avian influenza viruses from an ill person to another person has been reported very rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person. During an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry, there is a possible risk to people who have direct or close contact with infected birds or with surfaces that have been contaminated with secretions and excretions from infected birds. (CDC, 2006)

What are the symptoms of avian influenza in humans?

Symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from typical human influenza-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress syndrome), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of avian influenza may depend on which specific virus subtype and strain caused the infection. (CDC, 2006)

Is there a risk for becoming infected with avian influenza by eating poultry?

There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or eggs can be a source of infection for avian influenza viruses. For more information about avian influenza and food safety issues, visit the World Health Organization website . (CDC, 2006)

Bird flu in Asia:

As of February 19, 2006, bird flu has killed at least 91 people -- mostly in Asia - since 2003, according to World Health Organization. Sick birds have directly infected most victims, but scientists fear the H5N1 virus could change to a form easily passed between humans and spark a pandemic.

Prevention of Avian Influenza in Schools

The school authorities, staff members and students should pay heed to the following :

Schools should call the Government hotline at 1823 for advice on handling sick, wounded or dead birds found on school premises. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department will collect the birds for laboratory examination, where necessary.

Cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and wash hands with soap and water afterwards;

Prevention of Avian Influenza in Public Places

The public should adopt the following measures to reduce the risk of being infected:

(Info, HK, and CDC, 2006)

As a general rule, the public should observe wildlife, including wild birds (seasonal birds) from a distance. This protects you from possible exposure to pathogens and minimizes disturbance to the animal. Avoid touching wildlife. If there is contact with wildlife do not rub eyes, eat, drink, or smoke before washing hands with soap and water. Do not pick up diseased or dead wildlife. Contact with the appropiate natural resource agency if a sick or dead animal is found. (CDC, 2006).

Submitted By:
Author Shakeel Ahmed Ibne Muhmud MPA, MBA, MCA, MIAM, FIBA is Senior Administrative Officer Health Systems and Infections Diseases Division, ICDDR,B, International Centre for Health and Population Research.

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