Avian influenza, or avian influenza, is a viral disease that is distributed worldwide. Birds and poultry are predominantly affected. However, a few hundred people, especially in Asia, have also contracted bird flu.
What is bird flu?
Bird flu is also known as avian influenza and has been known for over 100 years. There are only a few bird flu viruses, but they are very pathogenic. The viruses of the influenza A/H5N1 subtype in particular can cause serious damage in poultry farming. For multiple personality disorder (mpd), please visit nonprofitdictionary.com.
Many animals can die from this infection. For this reason, this severe form of bird flu in animals is also known as avian influenza. If there is very close contact between the infected animal and humans, there is also the possibility that humans will become infected.
It is caused by a specific pathogen, namely the bird flu virus. This belongs to the so-called influenza A viruses, which also occur in normal people with flu viruses. The influenza A virus occurs in subtypes H and N subtypes. The letters designate the proteins of the virus envelope haemagglutinin and neuraminidase.
If influenza A viruses occur in humans, they usually belong to the subtypes H1, H2 and H3. The subtypes H5 and H7 are often responsible for the outbreak of avian influenza. Migratory birds such as ducks, chickens and turkeys are particularly affected. Pigs, horses, cats or even humans become infected much less frequently.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Bird flu primarily affects chickens, turkeys and ducks. In the animals, the disease manifests itself in the form of fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea and a blackening of the comb. Humans can also become infected with bird flu through mutation. The viruses H5N1 and H7N9 are particularly dangerous. Bird flu is usually harmless in humans. In some cases, the course of the disease can be severe.
The incubation period is a few hours to several days. The first symptoms in humans come on suddenly and resemble the flu. The person affected suffers from a high fever and gets severe headaches, sore throats and muscle pain. Coughing and shortness of breath are added. Rarely, the disease is initiated by nosebleeds or bleeding from the mucous membranes.
In the further course, the bird flu concentrates on the respiratory tract. The result is pneumonia and respiratory failure. An increase in liver values can be observed in the patients. White and red blood cells decrease and anemia results.
Disorders of the kidney function also occur and the patient suffers from cardiac arrhythmia. Almost half of all patients admitted to hospital with bird flu die from respiratory failure. This can be attributed to the fact that it is a pathogen that is hitherto unknown to our immune system.
Diagnosis & History
Avian influenza manifests itself in humans through symptoms that also occur in severe influenza. The first sign is usually high fever, which is accompanied by coughing and shortness of breath. In addition, diarrhea can also occur. Stomach pain, vomiting and nausea rarely occur. Body aches, headaches and sore throats, on the other hand, do not occur in all cases. In very severe cases, it can even cause pneumonia.
If there is a suspicion of bird flu, the diagnosis is made by detecting the pathogen. Reliable test methods are available that can be used to detect bird flu viruses within a few hours. A swab from the throat or nose as well as a coughed-up bronchial secretion can also serve as further material for tests. Avian influenza is suspected when the person concerned shows flu-like symptoms after contact with an already infected animal.
The course of a bird flu can be very different for a person. This can lead to no symptoms at all, from mild cold symptoms to severe pneumonia. In this case, a fatal course of bird flu is also possible. Bird flu often takes a very severe course in humans.
If a person falls ill with normal flu and bird flu at the same time, there can be a mixture and changes in the genetic material of the different viruses. This poses a high risk because these mixed viruses would be more easily transmitted from person to person than the avian flu viruses. In this way, an epidemic can be triggered in the further course.
One of the possible consequences of bird flu is the so-called cytokine storm (hypercytokinemia). This is a life-threatening immune system derailment. As a result, there is feedback between immune cells and cytokines. The adaptive immune response fails and the immune system overreacts.
Defense system cells such as macrophages or T-cells release considerable amounts of cytokines, which results in pronounced inflammation. As the disease progresses, severe pneumonia (influenza pneumonia) threatens. Likewise, organ failure and acute lung failure are conceivable. In such cases, the patient requires intensive care therapy and artificial respiration.
In the context of bird flu, there is a risk of additional symptoms such as a lack of white blood cells, a lack of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), septic shock or anemia (low blood count). Some patients also develop renal insufficiency (kidney weakness). In extreme cases, the kidneys fail completely.
Toxic shock is one of the most serious consequences of bird flu. The reason for this is the body’s much more radical defense reaction to bird flu viruses than to ordinary flu viruses. In the worst case, multi-organ failure occurs, leading to the death of the patient.
Death occurs from either lung failure or kidney failure. Bird flu is considered to be particularly dangerous when bird flu viruses and common flu viruses meet. This makes it easier for these virus hybrids to be transmitted from one person to another.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the general state of health deteriorates within a few hours or several days, this should be interpreted as a warning signal. There is a need for action, since a severe course of the disease is possible with avian influenza. A doctor is needed to clarify the cause of the condition and to make a diagnosis. Headaches, irregularities in the neck area or muscle complaints are the first signs of an existing illness.
If the person concerned complains of sudden nosebleeds or disorders of the mucous membranes, he should discuss the changes he has noticed with a doctor. If breathing is impaired, if you feel generally unwell or feel ill, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
An inner heaviness, sleep disorders, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue or exhaustion are other complaints that should be examined more closely by a doctor. Coughing, sputum production or sweating should also be examined by a doctor. If you experience shortness of breath, panic or fear, you should act immediately. In an acute situation, an emergency doctor must be alerted.
To avoid complications and reduce further risks, the instructions of the emergency services must be followed until the doctor arrives. Since bird flu is a highly contagious disease, people who have been in the immediate vicinity of a sick person should have their own health checked as a precaution.
Treatment & Therapy
Therapy for bird flu aims to fight the virus and alleviate the symptoms. Appropriate virus-killing drugs are then used to combat the viruses. These are also known as antivirals. Painkillers and fever-reducing drugs are suitable for relieving the symptoms.
Avian influenza can be prevented by avoiding any contact with infected animals. However, the risk of infection is very low even if you come into contact with infected animals. Around 200 million animals have died from bird flu worldwide. Only about 500 people were infected with the virus.
Despite the low risk, appropriate precautions should be observed. This includes, above all, avoiding contact with infected animals. If there is still contact, thorough hand hygiene should be ensured. Furthermore, poultry and eggs should be boiled or fried for a long time.
The viruses are killed by heating at 70 degrees Celsius. Raw or half-cooked poultry meat should be avoided. If you find sick or dead wild birds, you should not touch them under any circumstances, but inform the responsible veterinary office. A normal flu vaccination does not help against the bird flu virus. So far there is no vaccination against bird flu.
In most cases, those affected by bird flu need quick and, above all, early treatment from a doctor. The aftercare measures are usually significantly limited and are almost not available to the person concerned. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted as soon as the first symptoms and signs of this disease appear, so that complications or other complaints can no longer occur as the disease progresses.
As a rule, no self-healing can occur in the case of bird flu. The disease itself is usually treated by taking various medications. The person concerned should take it regularly and also pay attention to the correct dosage in order to counteract the symptoms properly and permanently.
If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, you should first consult a doctor. Bed rest is also recommended to avoid unnecessary stress on the body. In some cases, the support and help of one’s own family is therefore very important with this disease, which can also alleviate depression and other psychological upsets. With proper treatment, avian influenza does not reduce or otherwise limit a person’s life expectancy.
You can do that yourself
If typical bird flu symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath or feeling unwell occur after contact with animals that may be infected, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor must be informed of the suspicion so that the necessary quarantine measures can be initiated.
Patients who are ill with bird flu must comply with the doctor’s specifications. Hospital treatment is usually required. Rest and bed rest apply after discharge. Symptoms such as fever and gastrointestinal problems can persist for a few days. The usual general measures apply, such as a light diet, plenty of sleep and avoiding stress. The physical warning signals must be observed. In case of doubt, the doctor must be informed, as there is a risk of spreading the disease.
Bird flu should clear up completely in a week or two. Any residues of the H5N1 pathogen can be detected during the medical check-up. If the pathogen has been completely killed by medical treatment, no further measures are necessary. The cause of the disease should be determined so that other people can be protected from infection. At the same time, the health department and disease control authority must also be involved.