Bird Flu (Avian Flu): Symptoms, How You Catch It, Treatments

Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection that can infect not only birds but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.

H5N1 is the most common form of bird flu. It’s deadly to birds and can easily affect humans and other animals that come in contact with a carrier. According to the World Health Organization Trusted Source, H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997 and has killed nearly 60 percent Trusted Source of those infected.

Currently, the virus isn’t known to spread via human-to-human contact. Still, some experts worry that H5N1 may pose a risk of becoming a pandemic threat to humans.

What Are The Symptoms Of Bird Flu?

Flu

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

What’s The Treatment For Bird Flu?

Different types of bird flu can cause different symptoms. As a result, treatments may vary.

In most cases, treatment with antiviral medication such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) can help reduce the severity of the disease. However, the medication must be taken within 48 hours after symptoms first appear.

The virus that causes the human form of the flu can develop resistance to the two most common forms of antiviral medications, amantadine, and rimantadine (Flumadine). These medications shouldn’t be used to treat the disease.

Your family or others in close contact with you might also be prescribed antivirals as a preventive measure, even if they aren’t sick. You’ll be placed in isolation to avoid spreading the virus to others.

Your doctor may place you on a breathing machine if you develop a severe infection.

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