The Avian flu is caused by the virus group called Influenza, a related virus to the ones that produce the flu in humans. The most contagious and dangerous Influenza is the strain H5N1 that causes almost 100% death in infected birds from all species.
The human catch of the virus occurs by direct or indirect contact with sick birds or with secretions, feces or oral discharges from infected chicken or ducks.
The first occurring symptoms of Influenza in humans are a sore throat, coughing, muscular weakness, fever and conjunctivitis. These symptoms almost always lead to complications and to death causing dysfunctions. On the Influenza field, several viral pneumonias can appear and also the respiratory distress syndrome and finally the multi-organ failure.
Respiratory conditions are very frequent in humans and the Bird flu can be easily mistaken to such diseases. But any patient shoeing the symptoms and that has had a contact with sick animals or their secretions are suspected to have caught the Influenza virus. The confirmation of the illness will be established by laboratory testing and the case will be connected to all other sudden, unusual deaths in the area where the patient lives or works.
The treatment for the avian virus is the same as those for treating regular flues caused by Influenza strains. The treatment can be administered for cure and for prevention and its benefic effects are likely to be obtained in clinical healthy children and adults. The treatment has however its limitations given by the rapid mutations of the virus. Antiviral drugs are usually very expensive and the supplies needed for the entire community are never enough.
In the present, a new vaccine against bird Influenza has been established and its used is highly recommended for poultry handlers, veterinary employees and breeders. The vaccine is called Tamiflu and can also be used as a medication in case of disease confirmation.
The first step in preventing a Bird Flu epidemic is to ban the import of poultry from countries with confirmed cases. The bird caretakers must avoid contact with wild birds, control the human traffic in poultries, practice proper washing and disinfection, and report to the authorities any case of strange illnesses in birds or workers.
The general public must wash their hands properly after handling chicken meat, clean kitchen surfaces well, cook poultry at high temperatures, not sell live chicken on market places, not allow birds to run free in the yard, not place other species in the same place with birds, avoid contact with wild birds and report any case of dead birds in their farm.
People can safely travel to counties with Bird Flu cases as the disease is not transmitted from a person to another. In such cases of travels, tourists must avoid visits to places where birds may occur.