….Bird flu or Avian flu is caused by the influenza A virus and in most cases is fatal to birds. Influenza A virus can also cause disease in pigs, horse, and other animals. The strain which is currently a problem is the H5N1 strain.

The spread of Avian Influenza

….Avian flu can affect all types of birds. Chickens often get very ill and die from avian flu. Other birds such as water fowl, seagulls, and wild birds often do not get sick but shed he virus in their faces. This virus is then spread to birds, ducks in farms and households.

How can people catch bird flu?

….People can catch bird flu by direct contact with secretions, faces of sick/dead poultry or contact with surface contaminated with secretions, face of sick/dead poultry.

Symptoms of sick birds

  • Fever, ruffled feathers, loss of appetite
  • Swelling of face
  • Coughing, sneezing, running nose
  • Diarrhea, seizures
  • Early death

Symptoms of human with bird flu

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Body ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat, cough, running nose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Death

Diagnosis

  • By symptoms and by history of exposure to sick/dead poultry; travel to area with dead/sick poultry or close contact with person diagnosed with H5N1
  • Laboratory diagnosis nasopharyngeal specimens sent for rapid antigen testing, viral culture, PCR

.

Prevention of Bird flu

  • Stay healthy, Wash your hands.

– Use disinfectant gels or alcohol based hand rubs

  • Food preparation precaution .

–  Separate raw meat from cooked foods

–  Do not use the same knife / utensils for preparing raw meat and cooked food.

–  Do not return cooks meat to the same plate it was on before it was cooked

– All poultry foods and eggs should be cooked properly. Cooking temperature for poultry meat should reach 158o (70oC)

–  Do not use raw or soft boiled eggs in food tat will not be cooked

–  After handling raw poultry or eggs, wash your hands, all surfaces and utensils thoroughly.

  • Use masks / towel to cover your mouth / nose when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid travel to endemic areas.
  • Vaccination for high risk groups.