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Avian Influenza

Introduction

Avian Influenza or bird flu is a type of contagious disease infecting poultry and birds.

The world is already in a phase of Pandemic alert in which limited or no human transmission is recorded. Human cases of H5N1 have been reported in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and China. To date, sustained person to person transmission has not been recognized, although probable person to person spread was identified in Thailand involving transmission from an ill child to her mother and aunt.

Causative agent: Caused by Influenza virus type A.

Transmission: The exact mode of transmission of Avian influenza virus is not known. Studies in Hong Kong during outbreak in 1977 showed that human was infected through close contact with the infected poultry.

  • From birds to birds – droplets from the nose, saliva and droppings. The virus can survive in bird droppings up to 30 days.
  • From birds to humans – Direct contact with sick poultry, birds and produce, droppings of sick birds, water contaminated with the droppings of sick birds, contaminated objects such as containers & cages

The present concern is that the current Avian flu will change a form that is highly infectious for humans and spreads easily from person to person. This will mark the start of a global outbreak (a pandemic)

Incubation period: 1 – 10days

Sign & Symptoms

High fever (>38°C) associated with dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion/blockage, myalgia or headache, muscle pains and fatigue.

Complication

Pneumonia and death

Treatment

Specific treatment – None

Symptomatic treatment

Rest: Resting will provide comfort and allow your body to use its energy to fight the infection.

Avoid contact with others while the infection is contagious (at least 6 days after the first symptom appears)

Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost because of the fever (sweating).

Wipe your nose with disposable tissues and put them in the garbage can immediately. Cover your nose and mouth with tissues when you cough or sneeze and throw them in the garbage can as well. Do not blow your nose as this could send infected secretions into your sinuses.

Wash your hands often

DO NOT Hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have any questions at all about medications.

Prevention & Precautions

Vaccines are produced each year for seasonal (normal human) Influenza but this will not protect against pandemic influenza. No vaccines are expected to be widely available until several months after the start of a pandemic.

Wash your hands with soap and clean water regularly.

Ensure you only choose health meat and poultry products.

Always engage in good animal husbandry practices such as wearing a mask to cover your nose and mouth, gloves, an apron and boots.

Last Reviewed : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Norhayati Rusli
Reviewer : Dr. Norhaya Mohd Razali