Bird flu, also called Avian influenza, refers to influenza caused by some influenza virus strains adapted to birds. There are many types of bird flu, and most do not cause severe illness in birds and humans. But one type of bird flu, H5N1, have caused the death of millions of poultry and many wild birds, and sometimes can be passed from birds to humans and can be fatal to humans. The newly detected bird flu of H7N9 is low pathogenic to birds, but high pathogenic to humans and would cause humans to death. These viruses cannot by now spread between people, but scientists worry that these viruses may mutate and become contagious between people. Bird flu caused by such highly pathogenic viruses concern greatly the health of both birds and birds’ owners.
What are the symptoms of the birds and bird owners who got bird flu?
Symptoms for Birds:
- No appetite
- Problems with breathing or walking
- Swelling of the legs and face
The above symptoms can be observed mainly on poultry. In wild birds, infection signs are much more subtle and complicated. Highly pathogenic avian influenza that caused by H5N1 can kill birds rapidly within 1~2 days.
Symptoms for humans:
- Aching muscles
- Respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose
Anyone who appears flu-like symptoms should consult their doctors if they have been recently exposed to poultry or meet a dead wild bird. The incubation period of bird flu can be from 2-17 days, an early proper diagnosis should be made if there is any potential exposure because the disease of H5N1 and H7N9 can be fatal to humans.
It should be noted that not all the symptoms for birds and humans may present in every case, the most confident confirmation of bird flu come from blood analysis. Anyone who found any suspected symptom for both birds and humans should contact a doctor, a vet or local government.
How to prevent bird flu from infecting birds and the bird owners?
- Keep your birds and their food/cage away from all wild birds. Better to keep your birds indoors, if you keep them outside, enclose the cage with a roof and a cloth wrapping it. Collect the bird food immediately that pushed out of the cage by pet birds in case these food attract infected wild birds and leave the viruses to pet birds and owners.
- Do not often go to poultry market or farms when bird flu infections are reported nearby recently, clean your hands /clothes after you come back from these places.
- Have a good sanitation. Clean the bird cage, food/water containers at least once a week with soapy water, then apply a disinfectant and keep for about 15 minutes before rinsing them off with plenty of water.
- Cook poultry meat and eggs thoroughly to kill bird flu viruses and other harmful germs if there are.
- Do not travel to the area with bird flu infection just reported, and be careful not to be close to the people who just came back from the places where bird flu infections were reported recently.