• Simply GenZ

Bird Flu Scare: Things You need to know

Amid the pandemic, Bird flu has become another add on to the crazy successions that come with this traumatizing pandemic. With reports from sporadic corners alluding to mysterious deaths of wild geese, crows, ducks, poultry birds, and migratory species. When tested, they were found positive of Avian influenza or famously known as "Bird flu". This wasn't surprising, the virus retreated after wide-spreading reports of affliction in 2003. But it caused considerable damage to the poultry industry roughly around Rs.700 crore.

What is Avian Influenza?

A vigorously contagious viral disease caused by Influenza Type A. Chiefly spreading in poultry birds. It has many stains, some are mild while some are severely lethal ( but only some strains of five subtypes have been known to infect humans: H5N1, H7N3, H7N7, H7N9, and H9N2). Generally spreading with wild aquatic birds such as ducks and geese who are the natural reservoirs of this virus, many birds carry the flu without evening showing the symptoms they end up spreading it by their droppings. The virus was first reported in geese in China in 1996. Since then, outbreaks have been reported periodically across the world. India reported the presence of the virus in Nandurbar, Maharashtra, in 2006, which led to the large-scale culling of poultry birds.

Can It afflict Humans?

The cases of human affliction are chronically rare and seldom but it can jump species and infect humans from the infected bird. The first case of H5N1 infection in humans was reported in Hong Kong in 1997, where 6 people died out of the 18 infected. The transmission of the virus from person to person is quite difficult but when humans do get affected, the high mortality rate — almost 60 percent — becomes the main cause of concern about the spread of bird flu. Since 2003(its last outbreak), more than 700 human cases of Asian HPAI H5N1 have been reported to the WHO, primarily from 15 countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East, though over 60 countries have been affected.

Does this mean we should give up on eggs and chicken? is the scare real or hyped?

Not really, the virus is sensitive to heat, WHO says, it is safe BUT only if the food is cooked properly (i.e., cooking eggs until the yolks and whites turn real firm while cooking meat ensuring that the temperature has reached over 70 degrees in the center of the meat and none of it is pink at all), but the one thing COVID-19 has taught us is -- never underestimate a virus.

Keep in mind, contact with an infected bird (dead or alive) may cause a virus as stated earlier.

You may have an H5N1 infection if you experience typical flu-like symptoms such as:

  • cough

  • diarrhea

  • respiratory difficulties

  • fever (over 100.4°F or 38°C)

  • headache

  • muscle aches

  • malaise

  • runny nose

  • sore throat

If you’re exposed to bird flu, you should notify staff before you arrive at the doctor’s office or hospital. Alerting them ahead of time will allow them to take precautions to protect staff and other patients before caring for you. Different types of bird flu can cause different symptoms. As a result, treatments may vary. In most cases, treatment with antiviral medication can help reduce the severity of the disease. However, the medication must be taken within 48 hours after symptoms first appear or the condition may be fatal.

Writer - Nikhil Gajbhiye

Editor - Priyam Kusundal

Illustrator - Ishika Chakraborty

Graphics - Hafsa Gaballa