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Bird Flu
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Symptoms of Bird Flu

bird flu symptomsSymptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical flu symptoms - fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches - to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications.

The symptoms of bird flu depend on which virus caused the infection.

Download Bird Flu facts Sheet

CDC Bird Flu Facts

The earliest symptom of bird flu is a lot like that of normal human flu: sudden high fever. After that, the symptoms tend to be different.

Bird flu patients only sometimes have a runny nose, they tend to have lower respiratory symptoms - cough and shortness of breath.

Other bird flu symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, lung pain, and bleeding from the nose and gums.

There may also be symptoms unusual for flu. Two patients had brain infections and diarrhea but not respiratory symptoms.

About five days after illness onset, patients have shortness of breath. Severe breathing problems are common; there may be bloody sputum. Patients often move on to acute respiratory distress in about six days, requiring oxygen therapy and may require assisted breathing with a machine. Multiple organ failure is likely. Death usually comes from respiratory failure.

Early Bird Flu Treatment with Tamiflu

Two flu drugs are active against the bird flu symptoms: Tamiflu and Relenza. Tamiflu is taken orally, while Relenza must be inhaled.

Because bird flu can infect organs other than the lungs, Tamiflu is considered the treatment of choice. However, treatment must begin very soon after symptoms appear.

It is claimed that for severe cases of H5N1 bird flu, it's reasonable to use high doses of Tamiflu -- double the usually recommended dose.

Treatment of Bird Flu Symptoms in Humans

Studies show that the prescription medicines approved for human flu viruses would work in preventing bird flu infection in humans. However, viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work.

Risk to Humans from Bird Flu

The risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses occur mainly among birds and do not usually infect humans.

However, during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry (domesticated chicken, ducks, turkeys), there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with excretions from infected birds.

The current outbreak of avian influenza A (H5N1) among poultry in Asia (see below) is an example of a bird flu outbreak that has caused human infections and deaths.

In such situations, people should avoid contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces, and should be careful when handling and cooking poultry at work.


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