Avian flu – Is there a threat to humans? 16th September 2023 – Tags: , ,

There is information all around us about an increased number of cases of our pets getting sick, the Avian flu. Specialists tell us to keep an eye on our cats so that they do not leave the house to avoid contact with sick birds. Can this disease be transmitted to humans? And if so, how does it occur and how can we detect it?

What is bird flu:

Avian flu is a disease caused by influenza viruses that usually attack birds, not humans. Infected birds can transmit the virus through their saliva, feces or other body secretions. The virus most often attacks wild birds and farm birds such as ducks, geese, swans, chickens and turkeys. However, the course of the disease in farmed birds is more severe than in wild birds. Chicken farm owners must be careful to prevent their chickens from coming into contact with infected wild birds by sharing food or water.

What is bird flu
The photo shows the bird flu virus responsible for the disease.

Is bird flu a threat to humans?

Bird flu should not be a reason for panic because it is a disease that rarely affects humans. Among the large number of bird flu virus strains, there are 4 specific ones that can attack the human body – H5N1, H7N9. H5N6 and H5N8. The first three strains, however, do not cause easy infection with the virus and rapid further transmission of the virus, but they cause the death of some infected people. The H5N8 strain was also recently discovered to have infected a small number of people for the first time in Russia.

Avian flu in Poland – current statistics:

In 2023, 60 active bird flu outbreaks were detected in our country. Currently, the last outbreak has been registered in the Krakow district in the village of Dojazdów. Also at the beginning of the month, the Chief Veterinary Officer provided information that some of the 33 samples taken from cats and submitted to the National Veterinary Institute showed positive results indicating the genetic material of the bird flu virus, which means that the virus also attacks domestic cats.

Ways of transmitting the disease to humans:

Although this disease is rare among humans, it is important to remember how we can become infected:

  • Through contact with sick birds
  • Through contact with bird droppings or lining their habitat
  • Through contact with sick birds when killing or cooking them
  • Contact with a sick person

It is worth mentioning that we cannot become infected with the virus by eating fully cooked eggs or poultry meat, even if we are in a place where the disease has broken out.

Is bird flu a threat to humans
Please remember to avoid contact with wild birds and poultry during the disease outbreak.

Bird Flu Symptoms:

The main symptoms indicating infection with the bird flu virus are:

  • Very high temperature or hot flashes and chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Cough or shortness of breath

Other symptoms of the disease include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomachache
  • Pain in the chest
  • Bleeding from the nose and gums
  • Conjunctivitis

The first symptoms of the disease appear approximately 3 to 5 days after infection. A few days after the first symptoms appear, more severe complications may occur, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

How can we protect ourselves against virus infection?

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially before and after contact with raw poultry.
  • Use various kitchen tools when cooking cooked and raw meat
  • Avoid contact with wild birds and poultry
  • Check whether the meat has been fully cooked
Bird Flu Symptoms
The photo shows a warning sign to avoid contact with wild birds due to the current disease.
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