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With The Recent Outbreak Of The Bird-Flu, Should You Be Worried?

By ChemistsWorld On 17 Feb 2021

The year 2021 has brought us another flu spreading across 7 states of India. Though India is no stranger to Bird-flu in humans, under the current scenario of a pandemic, a lot of people are concerned over this issue. In this article, we will see if there is anything to be alarmed about and the steps you can take to prevent it.

Bird-flu also called Avian influenza, is a common flu among birds. It can also be passed on to humans and other animals. So many strains of this virus are seen in the birds whereas the H5N1 strain is considered deadly to the birds. This is also the strain of bird flu that is passed on to humans.

How can a human contract bird-flu?

Generally, the virus is unlikely to infect humans. Until now, no cases of human interaction have been reported in the recent onset of bird-flu. But what is most concerning is that this disease has a high mortality rate of 60%. The person who’s infected by the bird-flu virus may develop severe sickness and may soon lose their life. The risk of the infection is higher in the people who work closely with the birds or live in the areas which are close to the bird breeding farms. It is very unlikely that the H5N1 bird-flu virus will spread through human to human contact. The scenarios in which a human can possibly contract this virus are

• Coming in contact with the infected bird (dead or alive)
• Through the faces of the infected bird
• Being in the surroundings and environment where the infected birds are kept
• During slaughter or the de-feathering of the infected bird

We should follow the utmost caution as the cases of bird flu in humans are rare but not impossible. The virus, when contracted by humans, may develop and form new strains that are more contagious among humans. These new strains with enhanced abilities could be fatal and even lead to another pandemic.

Symptoms of Bird-flu

In the initial stages of contracting the bird-flu virus, a person may experience pain in the chest and abdominal areas. Soon it may lead to extreme respiratory troubles. Other symptoms include fever, cough, malaise, sore throat, muscle pain, pneumonia, and rarely seizures and altered mental states.

Treatment for the H5N1 bird-flu virus

When a person is infected with the H5N1 virus, he/she requires immediate hospitalization and should be kept in intensive care. Several antiviral drugs like Oseltamivir, Peramivir and Zanamivir are effective in reducing the risk of fatality and increasing the chance of recovery. Vaccines are also developed to prevent the spread of H5N1 influenza and stop it from becoming a pandemic. This vaccine is for people through the ages of 18 to 64, who are considered to be at high-risk of contracting this virus. It is still under the testing stage and will be made available to people after it develops the ability to stop the virus spread from person to person.

How to prevent catching the H5N1 bird-flu virus?

The virus dies when it is exposed to any temperature above 70 degrees Celsius. So a well-cooked chicken and eggs can be consumed. However, be very cautious while handling raw meat and eggs. Make sure to keep them separate from other food items. Wash your hands after handling the raw meat or eggs. Keep away from visiting open bird markets and places with a higher concentration of birds.