The respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and lungs, are infected by viruses that cause influenza, also known as ""the flu."" The influenza virus family is large. Some viruses solely affect humans, whereas others only affect pigs, birds, or dogs. Some can spread to multiple mammals (called """"cross species""""). This illness, also known as the ""bird flu,"" affects birds. There has been avian influenza for more than a century. When it killed many chickens in Italy in 1878, it was first described as the ""fowl plague."" Numerous species of birds may experience respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive, or neurological system complications from avian flu (or a combination of these). A decrease in egg production and a loss of appetite are the first symptoms of illness in chickens. The severity of avian flu symptoms can vary greatly, from a minor illness to a highly contagious condition with a fatality rate of up to 100%. Waterfowl (including ducks and geese) and some wild birds can harbor the virus without displaying symptoms of illness. The illness seems to have little effect on pigeons. Due to their high susceptibility to influenza infections, domestic chickens, which are easily transmitted to other chickens and swiftly escalate into epidemics (in poultry). NOTE: Visit OSH Answers Influenza for information on the human common flu.
How does bird flu spread among them?
The primary method of transmission of avian influenza is direct contact between sick and unaffected birds. Additionally, it can spread when birds come into touch with tools or supplies (such water and feed) that have been contaminated with excretions or secretions from diseased birds' mouths or noses. The virus can be carried by people and transferred from farm to farm by their clothing, boots, or vehicle wheels. Normally, wild birds may carry the virus without becoming ill. However, there have been a few unusual instances when wild flocks have become unwell or where migrating birds have infected nearby flocks of chicken while traveling through certain areas. Scientists are presently investigating the causes and mechanisms of this transformation. Consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's ""Protect your flock from bird flu"" document for more details on bird flu prevention.
Do all avian influenza viruses pose the same threat?
No. Low pathogenic and high pathogenic avian influenza viruses are two different types of avian influenza viruses. Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is a term used to describe a virus that only produces minor symptoms like as ruffled feathers and reduced egg output. High pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is exceedingly contagious and causes serious illness. Up to 100% of a flock that has been infected by HPAI will perish.
What is the avian influenza virus?
Influenza Avian influenza is caused by a virus.
Does the influenza virus come in different varieties?
Yes. The influenza virus is a member of the orthomyxovirus family, which also includes the influenza viruses A, B, C, and D. The flu only comes from influenza A viruses in birds. Birds from all across the world, both domestic and wild, have been shown to carry influenza A viruses. The majority of viruses have been discovered in domestic and waterfowl birds, including ducks, geese, gulls, and terns (e.g., chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants and quail). Avian influenza A viruses come in many different kinds or strains, although the majority of these strains in ducks and other birds do not result in any clinical signs. Additionally, humans, pigs, hogs, dogs, horses, seals, whales, and minks can all contract influenza A viruses. Pandemics can be brought on by novel influenza A viruses. Typically, influenza B viruses are exclusively found in humans. Although influenza type B viruses have not yet created pandemics, they can nonetheless generate human epidemics. Humans who contract influenza C viruses experience very minor symptoms and no outbreaks or pandemics. Pigs and dogs have also been reported to have influenza C viruses. The influenza D virus affects cattle but is not known to infect humans.
What do the terms ""H5N1"" and ""H7N9"" mean?
Influenza A virus is split into subtypes, and then into strains within each subtype. The letters H and N stand for the several protein subtypes that make up the influenza virus's outer surface. There are several different influenza subtypes. The haemagglutinin protein, also known as the HA protein, and the neuraminidase protein, sometimes known as the NA protein, are the two types of proteins that protrude from the surface of a virus. The immune system of the body is capable of producing antibodies that can identify these particular viral proteins, or antigens, and thwart that particular influenza virus. Researchers have found 18 kinds of HA proteins and 11 NA proteins in many combinations in bird flu viruses. These combinations are reported as strains of the influenza virus H(number) N(number). H7N1, H9N2, H5N1, H7N9, etc. are a few examples.
Can people get avian influenza?
Avian influenza viruses do not usually infect people. Direct contact with diseased birds or contaminated surfaces is thought to be the main cause of infection in most human instances. Two lineages – H5N1 and H7N9 – have been responsible for most human illnesses worldwide to date. Among all the avian influenza viruses that have caused illness in people, the subtype H5N1 has been associated with very serious illnesses and death. Health Canada states that although human infections with this virus are rare, people who do become infected can become seriously ill and may die.
How does avian flu spread to humans?
While rare, avian influenza in humans is mainly caused by contact with: infected chickens or other birds, manure and litter having high concentrations of avian influenza virus, contaminated surfaces, contaminated vehicles, equipment, clothing and footwear at farms where there are infected birds, and infected birds when being defeathered and prepared for sale. The virus does not spread easily from birds to humans, or from human to human. However, there have been very rare cases when the avian virus has spread from one ill person to another, but the transmission beyond that person has been limited.
What precautions can poultry workers take?
People working with poultry suspected of being infected with avian influenza, or in contact with such poultry, should wear protective clothing. This clothing includes face masks, goggles, gloves, and boots. In cases where you are in contact with infected birds, personal hygiene steps include washing hands, showering, and washing all of your clothing. Clean and disinfect your footwear.
What are the symptoms of avian flu in people?
The symptoms are similar to those of human influenza and can include fever, cough, aching muscles, sore throat, eye infections and serious respiratory infections including pneumonia. There is usually no vaccine against new strains of influenza. Some studies indicate that certain drugs that fight human influenza may help prevent serious illness among people infected with the avian influenza virus.
Can people get avian influenza from eating poultry infected with influenza?
No. Avian influenza is not spread by cooked food. There is no evidence to suggest that eating cooked poultry or eggs could transmit the virus to humans. While the World Health Organization recommends proper cooking as a good general practice, it is even more important in countries that have a current outbreak of avian influenza. The virus can be killed by heat so poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 75 °C (165 °F) to make sure they are safe to eat. Eggs should also be thoroughly cooked (no runny yolks). Food and kitchen hygiene are also important. Be sure that juices from raw poultry or poultry products do not touch or mix with other foods that will be eaten raw. Always wash your hands thoroughly and wash surfaces after touching poultry products. Cleaning with soap and water is appropriate.
Can the avian influenza turn into a human flu pandemic?
Traditionally, an influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus appears. As noted earlier, avian influenza does not spread easily or rapidly among humans. This characteristic does not lead to favourable conditions for a pandemic. Health officials monitor avian influenza outbreaks closely. For example, bird owners in Canada have a responsibility to report any bird diseases to their veterinarian and to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Animal Health office.
What steps can I take to avoid getting the flu?
The most important step you can take to protect yourself and others from influenza is to get the flu shot and stay home if you are sick. You can also reduce the chance of infection by washing your hands regularly. Always wash regularly with soap and warm water. See the OSH Answers Hand Washing - Reducing the Risk of Common Infections for more details. Other steps you can take for personal hygiene are listed in Good Hygiene Practices - Reducing the Spread of Infections and Viruses."""