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Avian Flu (Bird Flu) Information

What is Avian Flu?

Avian flu is also known as bird flu. The name is derived from a type of influenza that naturally occurs in the bird population. Worldwide, different types of wild bird carry the flu in their intestines and normally won't get sick, but sometimes it can make domesticated birds ill or kill them.

In 1997, it was first reported that a strain of avian flu (bird flu) had developed that could infect people. Generally the risk of infection from bird to person is low, though more common where someone works with or comes into regular close proximity to the birds. However, the fear is that avian flu will mutate with a strain of flu commonly in circulation within the human population and create a virulent version of bird flu that is capable of being passed from human to human.

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What are the symptoms of Avian Flu?

Some symptoms of avian flu are similar to the symptoms of seasonal human flu. They include fever, sore throats, aching muscle and limbs, and coughs. The virus can also cause eye infections, severe respiratory diseases (such as severe pain when breathing) and other complications, which can be life-threatening.

How dangerous is Avian Flu for Humans?

There have only been a few cases of avian flu infecting humans. Amongst those diagnosed with it, there has been a high rate of severe illness and mortality. In Asia, Europe, the Near East and Africa, over half of those who fell ill actually died.

Most of the cases concerned children and young adults who had been in close contact with poultry or surfaces contaminated with the H5N1 virus.

There has been a small amount of evidence of the virus spreading from human to human, but so far this has been slow and inefficient.

How is Avian Flu Treated?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) as being fairly effective at reducing the severity and duration of avian flu. Their effectiveness depends on them being given to the patient in the early stages of the illness.

Avian flu is not circulating in the human population and any potential future risk has been overtaken by the real risk posed by Swine Flu, which is circulating in the human population in around 160 countries across the globe. Swine Flu is much less harmful to humans than Avian Flu, with very few infected cases resulting in death.

The Online Clinic can provide consultations for influenza and is prepared to prescribe Tamiflu and Relenza on a precautionary basis or as a treatment if you already have symptoms so long as the symptoms have not persisted for more than 48 hours. If you would like a free, no obligation consultation, please click on the free consultation icon below.

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