Bird Flu Symptoms & Symptoms of Bird Flu

By: Sandra Clair

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a potentially fatal illness that has garnered a great deal of media attention. But, although you may have heard of the illness, you may still be wondering how to recognize the symptoms and how to differentiate it from other types of flu. In order to better understand the symptoms, it is helpful to have a greater understanding of the disease itself.

As with other forms of flu you are already familiar with, bird flu is spread by a virus. Generally, the symptoms are treated by keeping the patient more comfortable as the body fights off the disease.

The bird flu virus is carried in the intestines of wild birds. These birds, however, do not exhibit any symptoms from the disease. Domesticated birds, such as ducks, chickens, and turkeys, on the other hand, can become very ill and will even die from the disease.

The symptoms for those birds with a mild case include ruffled feathers and a decrease in egg production. In a severe case, however, birds will generally die within 48 hours as the virus systematically shuts down various organs within the bird's body.

In order to become infected with bird flu, a bird must come into contact with the excretions from a contaminated bird. This can include direct contact as well as contact with materials or other items that came in contact with the excretions. Although humans generally do not catch a virus from a bird, there have been more than 100 documented cases of humans with bird flu reported since 1997. Most of these cases were the result of the human coming in direct contact with a bird that was infected.

Recognizing bird flu symptoms can be quite difficult because some individuals that have been infected by the virus have exhibited symptoms that are normally associated with the flu. These symptoms include, cough, fever and sore throat. Other symptoms that are not typically associated with the flu include, eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (i.e. acute respiratory distress syndrome)and other life threatening complications.

A person exhibiting bird flu symptoms must undergo testing in order to confirm that the illness is the result of a bird flu virus. Although it is potentially deadly for the infected person, the bigger concern surrounding the disease is the possibility of mutation while in a human and becoming better capable of spreading from human to human. In this case, it would be difficult for scientists to prevent the spread of the disease because there are currently no vaccinations against the virus and because viruses tend to become resistant to medications used to treat them.

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