What is bird flu?
Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory, gastro-intestinal, reproductive or nervous system in birds and poultry. The virus, which can cause severe illness and death in the infected birds, with the mortality rate for chickens ranging from 90% to 100%, passes quickly from bird to bird.
Can humans get bird flu?
Although the avian influenza A viruses typically do not infect people, there have been rare cases of human infection. According to research, H5N1 and H7N9, which have an Asian lineage are the viruses most commonly responsible for the most human illness from bird flu viruses worldwide.
How does bird flu spread to humans?
The most common ways in which humans have caught bird flu is close contact with birds and/or their droppings as well as close, personal contact with another person who has the virus, however there have been very few cases of human to human transmission. There is also no evidence to suggest that humans have caught the virus from eating fully cooked chicken or their eggs.
Infections with bird flu viruses in humans can happen when the virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or is inhaled, either by directly breathing it in or touching these areas after coming into contact with the virus.
According to the CDC, the most common reason for bird flu infections in humans have been due to these individuals having unprotected contact with infected birds, or contact with surfaces that have been contaminated with the bird flu virus.
Whilst the risk of a bird flu infection in humans is relatively low, the World Health Organization recommends that people take precautions to avoid exposure to sick birds and their droppings, especially if they are coming into close contact.
Sometimes close contact with sick birds can be unavoidable, especially for those on farms that have suffered an outbreak, but it is recommended that protective clothing and masks are worn should someone need to handle a bird or enter anywhere that the infection has been found present.
What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?
In humans, symptoms of the disease can vary, from no symptoms or mild illness to severe disease, which can cause complications.
Symptoms of bird flu in humans include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, bird flu in humans can lead to pneumonia, which can be fatal.
What is the treatment for bird flu in humans?
The treatment for bird flu in humans is similar to that for other types of influenza, which includes rest, fluids, as well as pain relief, and in some cases, where applicable antiviral medication may also be prescribed.
How can bird flu be prevented?
People who work with poultry or who live in areas where there have been recent outbreaks of bird flu should take extra precautions to avoid exposure. These measures include wearing protective clothing, like face masks and washing hands thoroughly after coming into contact with sick birds or their environment.
What measures can be taken to prevent bird flu?
Bird flu, which has been particularly prevalent in the UK across the 2021 to 2022 season, reinforces the need for complete biosecurity measures on farms across the UK.
Biosecurity remains the most effective way to mitigate against the risks of an outbreak on-farm. At Livetec, we use over a decade’s worth of experience to protect farmers’ livelihoods with expert guidance, support and advice that is led by both our on-farm experience and significant scientific research.
As biosecurity experts, our bespoke, comprehensive biosecurity services help farmers both adapt and implement effective measures that significantly mitigate the risks of a disease outbreak.
To find out how Livetec can protect your birds and workers contact our team of experts here.