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Bird Flu


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Bird flu, not another global pandemic such as the swine flu was in 2009. Typically the avian influenza virus is only found in birds and is not the same thing as the human flu virus. Great, so why do we need to know about it? The first case of a human with “bird flu” was seen in 1997. However over the past decade there have been very few cases of humans contaminated with the avian influenza virus.



The avian influenza virus is mainly found in birds, birds normally found in Asia. This disease is highly contagious and severely lethal to birds. The risk of a human catching this disease is very low, however as we have seen it can happen. Therefore it is good to know how the disease can be transmitted therefore we can avoid the risk of catching it.  Most cases of humans catching the bird flu are as a result of coming in contact with infected poultry (domesticated chicken, ducks, or turkeys).  This includes and is not limited to secretions or excretions from the infected animal. Cases of contamination from person to person are very rare but have occurred especially in cases of family members living in close quarters.



All of the people who have been infected with bird flu where known to have come in close contact with infected birds in Asia and the outlying countries. However, more than half of human cases infected with the virus have died, showing just how serious this disease can be. Still the avian influenza virus remains a very rare disease in humans, but the CDC is watching this disease closely to make sure the strain doesn’t mutate or spread to humans in a more rapid manner.



    Symptoms of avian influenza have varied from case to case. Normal flu like symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches have presented but other severe symptoms include eye infections, pneumonia, and respiratory diseases. Because this disease affects its victims rapidly it is important to get checked by a doctor immediately. Some of the human influenza medications have shown to treat the bird flu, but not in all cases.



    Due to the severity of the avian influenza virus since its introduction the US has taken extra precautions to secure and protect the food supply especially in the poultry industry.  Migratory birds are the culprits who transmit this disease from bird to bird. So the federal government monitors all wild birds in areas where there may be possible contact with Asian birds. Not to mention that security at poultry farms is very secure. Poultry farmers number one concern is to protect their flocks, so they have special procedures to track and monitor their birds.



    The National Chicken Council, which all chicken companies follow set up guidelines for testing each flock of birds that is ready to be put into the food supply. Any poultry found to be infected would be destroyed. However, according to the CDC even if some how a bird that was infected got into the food supply you cannot get infected from properly handled and cooked food. By following the cooking instructions on freshly packed meat and poultry, you can be rest assured that you would not be infected. Proper cooking temperatures would destroy even the slightest sign of the virus.