Can bird flu be fatal? Know the symptoms of serious illness Health

A 53-year-old man in Chile was diagnosed with a severe case of bird flu, whose condition is said to be stable. Also known as avian influenza, bird flu is a type of influenza virus that spreads among wild and domesticated birds and is fatal to them. The infection can also be transmitted from birds to humans and usually causes mild illness such as cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain and conjunctivitis. However, sometimes it can lead to life-threatening complications ranging from pneumonia to sepsis. (Also Read: Bird Flu Outbreak: Warning Signs of Avian Influenza in Humans)

Bird flu, or the A(H5N1) virus, is not transmitted from person to person, and transmission from birds to humans is rare (Shutterstock)
Bird flu, or the A(H5N1) virus, is not transmitted from person to person, and transmission from birds to humans is rare (Shutterstock)

Bird flu, or the A(H5N1) virus, is not transmitted from person to person, and the possibility of bird-to-human transmission is rare. However, unprotected contact with wild birds or domestic birds that appear sick can cause serious illness in humans. The A(H5N1) virus was only sporadically detected in European poultry or wild birds until 2021.

“There has been a surge in human cases of avian influenza in 2022. All human cases reported since last year have been identified in humans who had recent contact with poultry, and no cases of human-to-human transmission have been identified. To date, transmission of the H5NY strain of influenza A has resulted in severe disease in humans. However, due to the potential for rapid evolution of the influenza virus and the threat of widespread spread and pandemic worldwide, surveillance in animals and humans is necessary,” Dr. Vinita says. Taneja – Director – Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.

What is bird flu and how is it transmitted?

H5N1 influenza virus or bird flu has very limited transmission but extremely high mortality rate.

“Bird flu is also known as avian influenza. It is an infection mainly in birds. It can be spread to humans through unprotected contact with infected birds or through direct contact with surfaces contaminated with bird flu virus or infected birds. Transmission to humans is very rare and only a small number of people have been infected but “Bird flu viruses can mutate and gain the ability to spread easily to humans, so close monitoring is essential,” Dr. Santosh Kumar Aggarwal says. Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Marengo Asia Hospital Faridabad.

Symptoms of bird flu

“In India, outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in several states in recent years, including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala. The H5N1 strain of the virus is considered highly pathogenic, meaning it can cause severe disease in humans. Symptoms of this disease may include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches and breathing problems. Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a viral infection that affects birds, especially wild waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, but can also spread to domestic poultry. In some cases, the virus can be transmitted from birds to humans, causing severe illness or even death,” says Dr. Athar Pasha – Consultant, General Medicine, CARE Hospital, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.

“Symptoms of bird flu virus infection in humans can range from no symptoms or mild illness such as red eyes (conjunctivitis) or mild flu-like upper respiratory symptoms to severe (such as pneumonia). Infected people may also have symptoms such as fever or chills. , cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headache, fatigue and shortness of breath. Less common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If symptoms persist If left untreated, bird flu can lead to serious and life-threatening complications like pneumonia, kidney failure, respiratory failure, sepsis (blood infection) and heart problems,” says Dr Agarwal.

“The symptoms of bird flu in humans are very similar to those of other influenza viruses and include high temperature, muscle aches, runny nose, headache, cough and difficulty breathing. These symptoms develop after a variable incubation period of 1-7 days after exposure. The number of current infections is very high.” Even without it, people do not have natural immunity to the virus and are at a higher risk of serious illness,” says Dr Taneja.

Severe symptoms of bird flu

In extremely rare cases, bird flu can be fatal and cause pneumonia, respiratory problems or sepsis.

“Symptoms of severe bird flu can include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and multi-organ failure. These complications can be life-threatening and require hospitalization and intensive care,” says Dr Pasha.

“It’s important to note that not all cases of bird flu in humans become seriously ill. In fact, many people infected with the virus experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, young children, and the elderly can become seriously ill. A high risk of disease is involved. Preventive measures such as avoiding contact with sick or dead birds, practicing good hygiene, and properly cooking poultry can reduce the risk of contracting bird flu. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if any symptoms of illness occur after contact with birds or poultry. ‘ adds Dr. Pasha.

Preventive measures

“Preventive measures include minimizing contact with wild birds or sick or dead poultry, wearing gloves and N95 masks when handling birds, practicing good hand hygiene, and avoiding contact with surfaces that may be contaminated with bird saliva, mucus, or feces. Cook poultry thoroughly and raw. “It’s important not to consume chicken that’s undercooked or undercooked,” says Dr Pasha.

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