Avian Influenza - Bird Flu FAQ

Avian Influenza - Bird Flu FAQ

As more and more cases of chook flu are reported, the world faces an instantaneous threat of a deadly pandemic. Pandemics (Global Disease Outbreaks) are known to be like flash floods. They begin abruptly, spread quick and cause lots of damage everywhere in the world.

A couple of facts that everybody ought to know:

What is Avian Influenza?

As the name suggests, avian influenza refers back to the an infection caused by avian (chicken) influenza (flu) viruses. These viruses are commonly found in intestines of untamed birds and these birds can carry the viruses without getting sick. Nonetheless the viruses could be pathogenic to domesticated birds like chickens, ducks and turkeys. Domesticated birds change into contaminated by exposure to other birds or by way of surfaces contaminated by secretions and faeces of the contaminated birds.

These viruses are labeled as Low Pathogenicity and High Pathogenicity. Most strains of Avian Influenza come under Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI) Group and produce delicate symptoms within the infected birds. Frequent symptoms are ruffled feathers, decreased meals urge for food, decreased egg production, sneezing and coughing. Many times LPAI could go undetected.

High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) has more severe signs which embrace sudden demise, loss of energy and appetite, decreased egg production, respiratory problems, facial oedema (swelling), poorly fashioned eggs and diarrhoea. HPAI can attain a mortality rate of practically 100%.

What Is H5N1 strain of Fowl Flu?

All flu viruses are categorised as type A, B or C relying on their structural arrangement. Type A is chargeable for lethal pandemics and is found in each animals and humans. Type B causes local outbreaks of flu. Type C is probably the most stable of the three and contaminated people show only delicate symptoms of flu. Type B and C are normally discovered only in humans. Type B and C are more stable than type A and usually are not classified based on their subtypes.

Influenza viruses of type A are divided into subtypes and the naming is done on the idea of proteins (antigens) discovered on their surface - Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). Sixteen types of HA and nine types of NA exist. Thus a total one hundred forty four combinations are possible.

Thus H5N1 is a type A virus and gets its name from HA 5 protein and NA 1 protein present on its surface.

How Do Type A Viruses Cause A Pandemic?

Type A viruses are further categorized into strains. These strains can repeatedly evolve into completely different strains. Their ability to alternate genetic material with different viruses and create new influenza viruses makes them unpredictable and difficult to combat with. People have to develop new immunity (antibodies) every time new strains are created.

Viruses cannot repair genetic damage, small changes known as "Antigen Drift", are constantly creating new strains of viruses. Nevertheless when genetic materials from Type A viruses from totally different species - say a fowl and a human, comes together and merges, a completely new strain is created. This is known as "Antigen Shift" Humans don't have any immunity to such a strain and the strain can spread rapidly inflicting a Pandemic.

How Is The Virus Transmitted To Humans From Birds?

Usually Avian Influenza viruses do not infect humans. Migratory birds act as carriers of these viruses and do not get affected by them. These birds then are available in contact with domesticated birds resembling chickens and turkeys and spread the an infection to them. Domesticated birds might get the virus from contact with contaminated surfaces too. As soon as a virus infects domesticated birds, it may possibly cause severe epidemic among the many birds. Humans are available contact with contaminated birds or contaminated surfaces and pick up the virus.

Within the human body, this avian flu virus then undergoes an antigenic shift, combines with genetic material of a human strain of influenza virus and creates an entirely new strain of virus towards which humans have little or no immunity. These genetic reassortments may additionally happen is the body of a third species (susceptible to both avian and human viruses) just like the pig, where an avian influenza A virus and human influenza virus mix their genetic data and produce a new virus which might be able to contaminate humans.

Why is H5N1 dangerous?

The primary reported cases of H5N1 infections have been detected in geese in 1997 in Southern China. A total of 18 human infections were reported and six of them succumbed to it. The infection spread quickly to poultry in Hong Kong. At the moment 1,000,000 and half chickens had been culled in Hong Kong to keep the virus under control. The virus disappeared for a couple of years, however resurfaced in 2002 in Hong Kong again. Since then it has killed hundreds of thousands of birds in Asia and plenty of cases of human infections have been reported.

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