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Bird Flu: Should You Avoid Chicken?

When 7,000 ducks dropped dead in Kottayam, Kerala and were tested positive for the lethal H5N1 virus in late November 2014, it spread the fear of a possible bird flu outbreak that has kept the nation worried.

Keeping in mind the nationwide outbreak in 2006 and the outbreak in West Bengal in 2008, various precautions have been taken since then to tackle the situation that might take the form of an epidemic as the poultry population of the state is very high and the virus extremely infectious. Check posts near the state borders are sterilizing the poultry that’s coming in and going out of the state. People near the affected poultry population have been taken under observation.

Birds have also been tested positive in the Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh and Uttar Pradesh has banned the import of poultry as a precaution.

Given the recent happenings, it is essential that you know what bird flu is all about.

Avian Influenza, popularly known as Bird Flu is a viral disease that commonly affects wild birds. A particular type of virus from the large group of viruses that is known to affect bird populations across the globe, type A has been found to be the most lethal. The type ‘A’ virus occurs naturally in wild birds who fall mildly sick due to the flu, however the virus is highly contagious and has a drastic impact on domesticated birds like chicken, ducks and turkey and the virus can even kill them.

Humans generally don’t get infected by flu that affects birds.

However, a particular subtype of the type ‘A’ virus known as H5N1 has infected humans and even resulted in their deaths. Humans who have been in direct or indirect contact with live or dead infected poultry have been known to be infected by the virus. Although human to human transmission of the virus has never been reported in India or elsewhere. Doctors say that the flu has the potential of transforming into a pandemic in the future if the virus mutates to make human to human transmission possible.

What are the symptoms?

  • Fever (38°C or higher)
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscle Aches
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhoea

The virus is lethal to humans as the mortality rates are as high as 60%.

Recent deaths have been reported in China, Libya, Hong Kong and Egypt in the past month and that has put Health Authorities across the globe on high alert. Government officials in the affected countries have asked people to stay away from poultry farms and visit the hospital as and when flu-like symptoms surface.

Bird Flu is a serious disease that might affect the avian population drastically. Doctors fear that the virus might mutate to make human to human transmission of the disease possible endangering the lives of millions of people across the globe. The recent outbreaks make awareness imperative.


image source: wikipedia

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