Avian/Bird Flu - Detailed Info

Avian influenza commonly known as avian flu or bird flu is a highly infectious viral disease that affects the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of many species of birds. Avian flu besides birds may also pose a risk to people and other animals in some circumstances. All recognized viruses belonging to the species influenza A virus are responsible for causing influenza in birds. The main concern in human infections is that there are certain H5 and H7 viruses that may mutate and turn into highly pathogenic leading to about 60% deaths in people who contract them. The concern prevails that the virus may change (or mutate) to develop disease in people, birds and other animals.

H5N1 caused initial outbreaks in domestic poultry in parts of Asia and the Middle East. Because H5N1 is so deadly to poultry, it is considered “highly pathogenic,” or highly disease causing. Almost 600 cases of human contamination with highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses have been reported since November 2003 around the world. Human clinical illness from contamination with avian influenza A viruses has varied from eye infections (conjunctivitis) to stern respiratory disease (pneumonia) complications leading to death.

As Influenza A viruses occur throughout the world, grave outbreaks of disease have been reported in many countries. Though avian influenza A viruses generally do not contaminate humans, still many cases of human infection with avian influenza A viruses have been accounted. Most of these cases have occurred as a result of direct contact with infected poultry. Because of concerns about the possibility for more extensive infection in the human population, many public health authorities such as WHO (World Health Organization) strictly keep a watch on outbreaks of human illness associated with avian influenza. The spread of avian influenza A viruses from one infected person to another has been accounted very seldom. Yet, since the potential of avian influenza A viruses to change and achieve the ability to spread easily between people, monitoring is important.

Signs and symptoms of Avian Flu
The World Health Organization has verified in its reports that mortality rate of all the cases infected from avian flu is nearly 60 percent, while many patients get ill with merely transitory health effects.
There are nearly 25 known subtypes exist of influenza A virus strain and may yet generate one that can transmit itself more easily between humans or forbears existing treatments. H5N1 is the most destructive virus subtype that exits till date and is associated with grave respiratory health effects. It has been pointed out that it takes two to five days to develop influenza-like illness symptoms following patients contact infected birds. Fever, chills, muscle aches and cough may contract the patient before other nasal symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and sinus congestion.  
This uncommon though hostile virus risk serious effects on the human health such as:

Conjunctivitis
Several patients suffering from avian flu show the symptoms of eye infections, or conjunctivitis. In this eyes of infected person become red, sticky and itchy, watery and may swell. Various cases of conjunctivitis in patients who were in direct contact with dead birds, bird droppings and bird nesting materials have been reported by U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.

Respiratory Problems
After a day or two of getting infected by avian influenza, a set of intense breathing health effects are common in patients. These health effects can be acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia or viral pneumonia. In a spur of time these breathing symptoms may intensify so quickly that patients may not even able to notify a doctor and it may lead to an emergency condition. An immense inflammation of the lining of the lungs restrains the transfer of oxygen and causes difficult, fast breathing in an endeavour to compensate. Major complications can arise due to permanent lung damage.

Gastrointestinal/Digestive Displease
In some cases of avian flu infection, gastrointestinal disorders also accompany other symptoms. The symptoms of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are associated with avian flu viruses in patients' blood. In order to avert avian flu infection in people, the doctors have advised them to cook poultry meat upto 165 degrees F and avoid eating raw eggs.

Organ Failure
As per statistics, nearly 30 percent of patients suffering from avian flu develop complications of acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is a fall in blood pressure that further aggravates low blood-oxygen levels, imposing threat to the critical organs. Futile respiratory treatment can lead to respiratory seizure, failure of kidney or liver, cardiac arrest and sometimes even death.

Treatment of Avian Flu
As per the guidelines given by WHO, people suspected with the contamination of avian influeza must be admitted to the hospital for appropriate medical treatment, which generally have to do with early intense respiratory support. Within 48 hours of the commencement of symptoms, antivirals are given. The drugs that are currently recommended are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanavir (Relenza). These two drugs if given early are known to be active against the virus, yielding positive results. Amantadine can also be given in supplement to the treatment with Tamiflu or Relenza, which is considered to be useful. However, taking amantadine alone for treatment may be futile as avian flu virus has demonstrated resistance to amantadine.

Ingestion of immune serum at early stage proves to be effective in cutting short the course of the disease and averting complications. Immune serum can be given in combination with the antivirals. However the availability of immune serum is limited since it is acquired from the blood of recuperating survivors of avian influenza. In patients who are suffering from secondary bacterial infection due to damage of local immune system of the lungs by the H5N1 virus, antibiotics can be useful. In such cases, a suspicion of bacterial pneumonia should co-exist with the viral devastation of the lungs.

Other treatment methodologies are supportive in nature such as oxygen therapy and ventilation support. The swiftly growing respiratory failure caused by the virus affects other organs and further deteriorates the effects of the virus. Supported breathing treatment aids in giving the other organs an aggressive chance of outliving the attack of the virus.

Issues prevailing after the treatment
From the commencement of infections, the virus remains infective for about three weeks. Despite of the common spread of the avian flu by coughing and sneezing, the body fluids of the infected patient, including feces and urine, are also infective. Therefore, even after discharge, the patient is continuously investigated for deterioration and likely occurrence of disease in the immediate contacts.


Prevention works best to avert Avian Influenza A Virus Infections
People working with poultry or coming in contact with influenza outbreaks among poultry, are therefore likely to be exposed to already infected or likely to be infected poultry, are recommended to follow suggested biosecurity and infection control practices. These practices include cautious consideration to hand hygiene and to use appropriate protective equipment to prevent the development of infection. Besides, people who respond to highly pathogenic poultry outbreak should strictly adhere to guidance from public health care authorities such as CDC and WHO and should take regular influenza vaccination and also take antiviral medication as a preventive response to outbreak. People exposed to outbreaks should be vigilantly monitored for signs or symptoms that are evident during and within 7 days after their most recent exposure to infected poultry or to environments potentially infected with avian influenza A virus.

Natural Preventive Measures
Beyond above mentioned obvious measures, there are various ways to help avoiding the avian flu when it outbreaks and also to outlive it if infected by it. These include things that you should normally do to guard the human body from almost all diseases and illnesses, such as get ample of rest, exercise, relinquish smoking, eat a wholesome diet, avoid stress and anxiety and especially make body`s innate first line of defense, that is, immune system sturdy and strong.

Examples of some of the very best immune boosters are Echinacea, Pau d`arco, Suma, Astragalus,   Beta glucans, Aloe vera, Alkygycerol, Lactoferrin, Bovine colostrums, Glutathione,  Mangosteen.

The another thing to do is to take one or more good natural anti-viral agents since contrast to other illnesses or flues, the avian flu uses body’s own immune system to attack the body. Thus, it is essential to also include good natural anti-viral supplements along with immune boosters. Examples of natural pathogen destroyers are Garlic, Olive leaf extract, Oil of wild mountain oregano, Grapefruit seed extract, Colloidal Silver.

The disease has obtained significant attention because it is extremely infectious among poultry, highly pathogenic in the human population and also it is complicated to control. Therefore, it is advisable to take preventive precautions than to suffer the grave threats of the disease to life.