What is bird flu?



What is bird flu?

Bird flu, also known as avian flu, is a viral infection that spread among birds. Most infected birds die of bird flu. Some kinds of bird flu are just restricted to birds, but unfortunately, some can affect humans and other animals, causing a great number of deaths. Examples of these kinds are H5N1 and H7N9.

Infected birds may be very hard to be realized by human eyes, as birds do not always get sick from infection, even some is still looking healthy.

How common is bird flu?

People may get bird flu by having close contact with infected birds or bird droppings. This means everyone in any ages, any genders has a risk of getting bird flu. Since the first human case in 1997, H5N1 has killed nearly 60% of people who have been infected.


What are the symptoms of bird flu?

If you have some symptoms below, you should be carefully in case that you may get bird flu.

  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Malaise
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. As the symptoms of bird flu are similar to normal types of flu, people usually misunderstand about their condition, which misses the best time to be treated.


What causes bird flu?

Bird flu occurs naturally in wild waterfowl, and can spread quickly to domestic poultry. The disease is transmitted to humans when they contact with infected bird feces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

Properly cook poultry or eggs from infected birds does not transmit the bird flu, but eggs should never be served runny. Meat is considered safe if it has been cooked to an internal temperature of 80-90˚C. To ensure your safety, you should use tested meat and eggs.

H5N1 virus can survive for extended periods of time. Birds infected with H5N1 continue to release the virus in feces and saliva for as long as 10 days.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for bird flu?

There are many risk factors for bird flu, especially if you:

  • Raise poultry
  • Turn back from affected areas
  • Contact to injected birds
  • Eat undercooked poultry or eggs
  • Take care of infected patients
  • Live with an infected person

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is bird flu diagnosed?

The test for bird flu is called influenza A/H5 virus real-time RT-PCR primer and probe set. This test includes the following steps:

  • Auscultation (a test that detects abnormal breath sounds)
  • White blood cell differential
  • Nasopharyngeal culture
  • Chest x-ray

How is bird flu treated?

The medications must be given within 48 hours after symptoms first appear to gain the best result.  As there are some types of bird flu, the treatments also vary depending on the symptoms you have.  The most common medications for bird flu are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). The patients need to be under the doctor’s observation during the treatment.

Your family or others in close contact with you might also be prescribed antivirals as a preventive measure, even if they have no symptoms. You will be placed in isolation to avoid spreading the virus to others.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage bird flu?

To minimize the risk of infection, you should avoid:

  • Contacting with infected birds.
  • Consuming undercooked poultry and eggs.
  • Buying meats from open-air markets.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: December 2, 2016 | Last Modified: February 3, 2017

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