Who is Most Vulnerable to Bird Flu

By: rickstooker
Right now, the people must vulnerable to bird flu are those who come into close and frequent contact with infected chickens and other poultry.

Therefore, the main danger is to rural farmers and chicken sellers in Asia and Africa. Anybody who slaughters chickens, plucks their feathers, eviscerates and cooks chickens. Anybody who sells their raw meat in a market. Anybody who attends a cockfighting match, because fighting cocks spray blood into the air.

Their children seem to be most at risk. That's probably because they play and pet the chickens that run wild in their villages, they play in the dirt that's infected with chicken droppings and they have undeveloped immune systems.

Anybody who eats raw or undercooked chicken or eggs from infected chickens is at risk. That is why Vietnam is discouraging its people from preparing a traditional dish of raw duck blood soup.

Right now, this applies to people in rural Asia, Africa and Europe. When H5N1 spreads to North and South America, it could apply also to small farmers who raise chickens the traditional way.

Modern chicken factory farming protects chickens from contact with wild fowl and other outside birds, so they're unlikely to catch bird flu -- though it's not impossible. People who work in the U.S. poultry industry are also the most now at risk, so they should follow all guidelines to limit contact with live and raw chicken and wash themselves thoroughly after work.

If bird flu mutates into a form that is easily contagious from human to human, we're all vulnerable to catching the virus. We should all avoid nonessential contact with people. We should be careful who we physically touch, since even shaking hands can spread the virus. We should be careful about touching objects that have been used by others. We should wash our hands well and often.

But some groups are particularly vulnerable to bird flu:

Children, because they have underdeveloped immune systems

Pregnant women

Seniors, because they have lowered immunity

People with AIDS, because their have low CDC4 counts

People who're HIV+, though it's not yet known just how much more at risk they are of catching bird flu, it's only logical that any stress on their immune systems will increase the risk that the HIV in their bodies will replicate more quickly

People undergoing radiation or chemo therapy for cancer

People who're taking immune-suppressing drugs because of organ transplants

People with chronic breathing or respiratory problems such as asthma or chronic pulmonary disorder

People with heart disease, because they're more at risk from the stress of fighting a case of bird flu

If you fall into any of the above groups, avoid all contact with anybody who could be carrying the bird flu virus. Wash your hands well and often. Consult with your doctor.

During 1918, the flu was particularly fatal to young adults who did not fall into any of the above groups. They had the problem that their immune systems were strong enough to overreact to the infection and destroyed their lung tissues in order to save them.

This "cytokine storm" does seem to be a danger with H5N1 also.

However, personally I'd rather have a healthy immune system to fight H5N1 with, and then use Vitamin C, Omega 3, over the counter NSAIDs and Cox-2 inhibitors (such as aspirin, Aleve, Ibuprofin, Advil or Motrin) or even hydrogen peroxide to reduce the inflammation.

Right now, people exposed to infected chickens are most at risk. If bird flu becomes highly contagious, we're all at risk, but people with weak immune systems are most at risk.
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