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Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza Causes

Avian influenza is caused by a virus that commonly affects birds. The avian virus does not typically infect humans. However, an outbreak in 1997 revealed infected human cases. It has since been determined that humans can contract the virus through close contact with infected poultry or surfaces contaminated by infected birds. Direct bird to human transmission can be traced to wild birds, which transmit the virus to domesticated birds, which are then exposed to humans as food.

Avian Influenza Definition

Avian influenza pertains to a condition that humans can contract from infected birds. It is more commonly known as bird flu.

Avian Influenza Diagnosis

The avian influenza virus can be assayed through: rapid antigen detection; near-patient tests for influenza; immunofluorescence assay; and enzyme immunoassay. A virus culture may also be done to determine the presence of the virus.

Avian Influenza Symptoms and Signs

Avian influenza has an undetermined incubation period in humans. Typically, the illness begins to manifest 1-5 days after exposure to the bird flu virus. Classic signs of avian influenza include: coughing, fever, sore throat, and muscle aches. In some cases, infected humans will develop a mild eye infection called conjunctivitis. In rare instances, humans may develop potentially fatal complications from avian influenza, including viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress.

Avian Influenza Treatment

Currently, the primary treatment for avian influenza is a flu drug known as oseltamivir or Tamiflu, which prevents the virus from replicating. Zanamivir or Relenza is another medication which has some antiviral efficacy.

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