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How Does Bird Flu Affect Humans? Know Everything About H5N1 Avian Influenza

Bird flu or H5N1 avian influenza cases were reported in Shahapur, after the death of around 100 birds at a poultry farm in Vehloli village on February 18, 2022. Samples were collected from these birds to test and the results confirmed that they had died because of H5N1 Avian Influenza, also known as Bird Flu. And, around 15,600 broiler birds had been culled in Shahapur to comply with the standard operating procedure till Friday morning. With all this news buzzing around m, the biggest question is that how much we should worry about the Avian Flu? And how much can this flu affect human beings? Here are the answers to your questions. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Farah Ingale, Director-Internal Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital, to know everything about bird flu.

What Is Bird Or Avian Flu?

Avian Influenza or bird flu is a disease caused because of infection with Avian (bird) Influenza (flu) Type A viruses. According go the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it usually occurs among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can affect domestic poultry, other birds, and animals. As per the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), H5N8, H5N5 and H5N1, with H5N8, are the most commonly reported flu viruses among birds.

How does it affect humans?

bird flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Avian Flu viruses do not generally infect human beings, and such an infection is extremely rare. But, if it does infect a person, the symptoms are mostly mild; very few patients might require ICU care. It is very rare to have human to human transmission of this infection.

What are the common symptoms of bird flu among humans?

Some common symptoms of bird flu include cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, and shortness of breath. People who contract Bird flu virus can even develop life-threatening complications, such as Pneumonia, Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis), respiratory failure, Kidney dysfunction and Heart problems.

Also read: Bird Flu In India: Tips And Precautions To Stay Safe From The Avian Influenza

When should you see a doctor?

It is important to see your doctor immediately if you have fever, cough, or body ache, and have recently traveled to a different part of the city/ state where Bird flu case was reported. Make sure to let your doctor know if you visited any farms or open-air meat markets.

Bird flu causes

People can contract the Bird flu virus due to close contact with birds or bird droppings. In some cases, people catch the virus from cleaning or plucking infected birds. In fact, it is possible for people to contract the virus while swimming or taking a bath in contaminated water with the droppings of infected birds.

Should we stop eating poultry products like chicken and eggs?

Also read: Bird Flu Symptoms: Know The 9 Symptoms of Bird Flu For Timely Diagnosis and Treatment

Chicken and other poultry products are harmless and safe to eat if cooked properly, as per a joint statement gives by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued to national food safety authorities. But, some sources say that no birds from flocks with this disease should be in the food chain. Here are some good hygiene practices to reduce the risk of the bird flu:

  • Avoid cross-contamination
  • Wear gloves while cleaning and prepping the chicken meat
  • Use hot, soapy water to wash cutting boards, utensils and all surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry
  • Cook well – Cook chicken until the juices run clear (minimum 30mins) and reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 F (74C)
  • Stay clear of raw eggs: avoid foods containing raw or undercooked eggs because eggshells are often contaminated with bird droppings
  • If you plan on eating at a restaurant or hope to order-in from your favorite restaurant, and if your order contains chicken & egg, try, and ask for quality checks beforehand & make sure that the food is well cooked
  • Choose precut or frozen chicken for household consumption; if you are buying fresh cut Chicken keep it refrigerated until ready to cook



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