H5N1 Influenza

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is H5N1 influenza?

H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a dangerous infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza (or “bird flu”).

Although many types of virus can cause bird flu, doctors are most concerned about H5N1 and H7N9 viruses. These viruses are found in wild birds and can transmit to human through eating infected chicken, ducks or bird meat.

H5N1 is deadly when they infect human. As of 2011, the disease was well established in six nations: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

How common is H5N1 influenza?

This health condition is extremely common in birds, thus it is hard to eradicate. It can affect patients at any age. The average age of those affected by H7N9 was 62, while the average age of those with H5N1 was only 26.

Unlike human flu, H5N1 bird flu does not spread easily from person to person. The very few cases of human-to-human transmission have been among people with exceptionally close contact, such as a mother who caught the virus while caring for her sick infant. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of H5N1 influenza?

The common symptoms of H5N1 influenza can be similar to a normal flu, but it can become severe symptoms if there is not a suitable treatment:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Some people also experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. And in a few cases, a mild eye infection (conjunctivitis) is the only indication of the disease.

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?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • You develop a fever, cough and body aches
  • Have traveled to a part of the world recently where bird flu occurs.
  • Be sure to let your doctor know if you visited any farms or open-air markets.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes H5N1 influenza?

After a wild bird infects a farm-raised bird, the virus can easily and quickly spread among hundreds or thousands of farm birds due to late . Sick birds must be killed to stop the virus from spreading.

People who are related to sick chickens, ducks, or turkeys have more chance to get the virus. Bird flu virus can be passed through bird droppings and saliva on surfaces such as cages, tractors, and other farm equipment.

Most people don’t need to worry about getting sick with bird flu virus. You cannot get bird flu from eating fully cooked chicken, turkey, or duck, because heat kills the virus.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for H5N1 influenza?

There are many risk factors for H5N1 influenza from contacting with sick birds or with surfaces contaminated by their feathers, saliva or droppings, such as:

  • Eating uncooked poultry or eggs.
  • Getting exposed to infected birds. You have higher risk if you are a poultry farmer, a health care worker or care giver of an infected person.
  • Traveling visiting affected areas.

Diagnosis & Treatment

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


How is H5N1 influenza diagnosed?

Laboratory tests

Samples of fluids from your nose or throat can be tested for evidence of bird flu virus. These samples must be taken within the first few days after symptoms appear.

Imaging tests

X-rays may be useful in assessing the condition of your lungs, which can help determine the proper diagnosis and the best treatment options for your signs and symptoms.

How is H5N1 influenza treated?

Treatment for bird flu depends on what the virus affects your body. In some cases, antiviral medicines may help you feel better. But experts are concerned that certain antiviral medicines may not work against bird flu.

Unfortunately, you have bird flu, you are forced to stay in a private hospital room (isolation room) to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others.

Some people who have bird flu may need a machine called a ventilator to help them breathe better. Other people may need a machine to help the kidneys work better (dialysis). If bird flu has an ability to spend more than half of the time, bird flu leads to death.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage H5N1 influenza?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with H5N1 influenza:

Bird flu vaccine

  • This vaccine which could be used early is an outbreak to provide limited protection. “Limited” means that you have to wait for another vaccine designed to protect against the specific form of the virus causing the outbreak is developed and produced.

Recommendations for travelers

If you’re traveling to Southeast Asia or to any region with bird flu outbreaks, consider these public health recommendations:

  • Avoid domesticated birds. If possible, avoid rural areas, small farms and open-air markets.
  • Wash your hands. This is one of the simplest and best ways to prevent infections of all kinds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol when you travel.
  • Ask about a flu shot. Before traveling, ask your doctor about a flu shot. It won’t protect you specifically from bird flu, but it may help reduce the risk of simultaneous infection with bird and human flu viruses.

Poultry and egg products

  • Avoid cross-contamination. Use hot, soapy water to wash cutting boards, utensils and all surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry.
  • Cook thoroughly. Cook chicken until the juices run clear, and it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 F (74 C).
  • Steer clear of raw eggs. Because eggshells are often contaminated with bird droppings, avoid foods containing raw or undercooked eggs.

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.

Review Date: March 12, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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