April 29th, 2017
Naturally, people are curious about the avian flu and have a large number of questions regarding this disease.
What is avian influenza or Bird Flu? Avian influenza, which is also known as bird flu, is an infectious viral disease. It originates from a virus that typically infects only birds (including chickens, ducks, geese, quails and wild birds), and less frequently, is found in pigs and other mammals.
What are the symptoms of Bird Flu in birds? The symptoms in birds differ from a hardly noticed mild illness, to a “highly pathogenic avian influenza”, which is very contagious and quickly fatal in birds.
How is Bird Flu spread? Ducks and other waterfowl act as storage for the avian influenza virus by carrying it in their intestinal tract and shedding it in their feces. Bird flu viruses migrate to vulnerable birds through inhalation of influenza particles in nasal and respiratory secretions and from contact with the feces of contaminated birds.
How do we control the spread of Bird Flu? Controlling the spread involves quickly destroying or gathering all contaminated or exposed birds. Their bodies must be appropriately destroyed and when needed quarantining must take place. On farms, proper disinfection methods should be met; Biosecurity enhancement known, and public awareness campaigns should be in place. Another control measure is to limit the movement of live poultry, from both within and between countries.
Are there public health interventions and safety measures? There are a number of public health intercession and safety measures that can reduce the risk of avian influenza. Personal protective equipment such as clothing, gloves, masks, goggles and footwear should be worn. Hands should always be washed and disinfected properly. Anyone exposed to contaminated chickens or farms should be monitored.
Are the flu viruses of human and birds the same? Most times, the influenza viruses that infect birds do not infect humans. There are however, alterations of the bird flu virus into new and more destructive strains that happen frequently and have already caused several avian flu outbreaks in the past, some of which caused human fatalities.
What are the symptoms of Bird Flu in humans? Patients with avian flu symptoms developed fever, sore throat, cough and, in many of the fatal cases, harsh respiratory distress.
Can a pandemic be averted? This cannot be determined, as nobody knows because influenza viruses are highly insecure and their behavior is not predictable.
Is there a vaccine effective against H5N1 in humans? At this time, there is not a vaccine effective against H5N1 strain in humans.
What medical treatment is recommended for patients with H5N1 avian influenza? There are two classes of drugs available for patients. These are the M2 inhibitors (amantadine and rimantadine) and the neuramindase inhibitors (oseltamavir and zanimivir). These drugs have been licensed for the deterrence and treatment of human influenza in some countries. They are considered to be effective despite the contributory strain.
What is ADB’s support to member countries? After the avian flu outbreak in January 2004, ADB extended the use of the funds under TA 6108-REG: Emergency Regional Support to Address the Outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) for a variety of activities connected to avian flu. These consist of the acquirement of equipment and supplies, training, surveillance, monitoring and screening and other public health system needs relating to the avian flu outbreak. Regional departments and resident missions for impaired countries were conferring with corresponding staff to see how ADB might help, in close relationship with WHO as well as other agencies.