Can 'bird flu' affect humans?

Can 'bird flu' affect humans?

On one hand, where the coronavirus cases are reducing, India is facing another challenge with the recently reported bird flu, which has now spread across the country and has raised concerns in cities like Mumbai. Reports state that bird flu' also known as the 'Avian Influenza' has spread across 10 states of the country.

So far more than 10,000 birds have died due to the flu and these deaths have created panic among citizens. Cities have been on high alert, and the local administrations have been asked to take necessary steps. 

Keeping the same in mind, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken steps to provide precautionary measures and has released a helpline number for the safety of the citizens. After the sudden death of 800 chickens was reported in Parbhani, officials confirmed that the has also spread in the state. Prior to that, the sudden death of birds was reported in areas like Thane and Chembur.

However, the people are concerned about the spread among humans and the sudden onset has raised many questions related to eating chicken and eggs, bird flu transmissions, risk of the flu on children or the elderly, symptoms, precautions etc.

Here's the information one needs to know about the bird flu!

What is 'bird flu'?

Bird flu (H5N1) is a viral disease most commonly found in birds. This form of the influenza virus is also known as avian flu, and it is different from that of the virus which affects humans, called as the common flu. Reports state that besides birds, the flu also affects pigs, cats and other animals. It is transmitted mainly from chickens and ducks and cases were first traced in China, in 1996. A few cases were reported in humans, in Hong Kong, in 1997. Since then, the disease has spread to about 50 countries. In 2013, a team of researchers found a new strain of bird flu in China called H7N9.

Can it happen to humans?

This kind of virus lives in the bodies of ducks and similar waterfowl, whereby it mainly infects the intestines and lungs. Ducks and other waterfowl are the main hosts of this virus.

Symptoms of Bird Flu 

The bird flu virus is transmitted from animals to humans and is mainly virus spread through the air. Initial symptoms appear within two to eight days of infection and include difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, headache, cold, sore throat, muscle aches, vomiting, abdominal pain are advised to consult a doctor as soon as possible.

How can one take care?

In case of symptoms, one should consult a doctor or healthcare expert immediately. Primarily, one should not touch dead birds and stay away from them. Wherever found, the local administration should be informed immediately. Furthermore, care should be taken that dogs, cats or other animals do not eat them.

Dead birds should be disposed of immediately without throwing them in open bins. Authorities should bury them deep or destroyed them by burning. Citizens working in poultry farms should take special care and strict hygiene should be maintained after contact with birds.

Ones who eat chicken and eggs should ensure it is cooked thoroughly before consumptions. Meat should be fully cooked and eggs should be cleaned and boiled for safety. As a precautionary measure, these should be bought from known places. Eggs should be usually thrown into the water to see if they are good. 

One should be careful enough, however, there is no need to panic. Pets or birds should take care thoroughly and ensure no indoor animals or birds are in contact with outside birds or animals. Care should be taken that dogs or cats do not eat anything while walking outside. Pet owners should avoid giving raw or semi-raw meat or eggs to animals. In case of symptoms or change in behaviour and movements. they should consult a veterinarian immediately.

Helpline numbers

The BMC has asked the citizens to contact the helpline number 1916 when necessary. Citizens in Thane and other areas can contact the Regional Disaster Management Cell on toll-free number 1800222108 or 022 - 25371010 to lodge complaints related to bird deaths.

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