Understanding the Transmission of Bird Flu in Humans

In this paper I am going to talked about what is the bird flu, how do humans get the bird flu, how can people catch the bird flu from another person, has the bird flu been seen in the United States, what are the signs and symptoms of the bird flu in humans and is there a bird flu vaccine and treatment. Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a viral infection spread from bird to bird. Currently, a particularly deadly strain of bird flu (H5N1) continues to spread among poultry in Egypt and in certain parts of Asia.

Technically, H5N1 is a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus. It is deadly to most, but not all birds, and it is deadly to humans and to other mammals that catch the virus from the birds. Since the first human case in 1997, H5N1 has killed nearly 60% of the people who have been infected, but unlike human flu bugs, H5N1 bird flu does not spread easily from person to person.

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The very few cases of human-to-human transmission have been among people with exceptionally close contact, such as a mother who caught the virus while caring for her sick infant.

Migrating water birds, especially wild ducks are the natural carriers of bird flu viruses. It is suspected that infection can spread from wild birds to domestic poultry. The disease has spread to wild birds, pigs, and even to donkeys, it will be hard, if not impossible, to get rid of. As of 2011, the disease was well established in six nations: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam (What Is Bird Flu, 2012).

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People catch the bird flu by close contact with birds or bird droppings. Some people have caught H5N1 from cleaning or plucking infected birds. In China, there have been reports of infection via inhalation of aerosolized materials in live bird markets. It is also possible that some people were infected after swimming or bathing in water contaminated with the droppings of infected birds, and some infections have occurred in people who handle fighting cocks. People do not catch the virus from eating fully cooked chicken or eggs.

There have been a few cases where one infected person caught the bird flu virus from another person, but only after close personal contact. So far, there has been no sustained human-to-human spread of H5N1 (What Is Bird Flu, 2012). As long as the bird flu virus does not change into a human flu virus, it won't spread far in between people. Sometimes, after close personal contact a person who gets bird flu does infect another person. In Indonesia in 2006, bird flu spread to eight members of one family, seven of them died. It's not clear exactly how this happened. Family members likely had similar contacts with infected birds.

They may also have shared genes that made them particularly susceptible to the virus. However, casual contact does not seem to be involved.H5N1 bird flu has never been detected in the United States. Various strains of bird flu pop up in the United States poultry from time to time. When they do, all affected poultry flocks are discarded. For example, in 2004 a highly dangerous bird flu strain appeared in a Texas chicken flock. The outbreak involved an H5N2 virus (not the H5N1 bird flu). By April 2004, the outbreak had been eradicated. No human infections were detected (What Is Bird Flu, 2012). Bird flu symptoms in people can vary. Symptoms may start out as normal flu-like symptom.

This could progressively get worse and become a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. In February 2005, researchers in Vietnam reported human cases of bird flu in which the virus infected the brain and digestive tract of two children, both children died. These cases make it clear that bird flu in humans may not always look like typical cases of the flu. No human cases of bird flu have been seen in the United States or North America. As a precaution, the CDC is asking people who have traveled to East Asia to see a doctor if they develop flu-like symptoms. If so, it is important to tell the doctor about having visited these areas so the proper tests can be done (What Is Bird Flu, 2012).

On April 17, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its approval of the first vaccine to prevent human infection with one strain of the bird flu. The vaccine has been purchased by the United States federal government to be distributed by public health officials if needed. This vaccine will not be made commercially available to the general public. Other bird flu vaccines are being developed by other companies, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has a stockpile of the vaccine. They have plans to quickly produce more if needed. When given along with immunity-boosting agents called adjuvants, experimental H5N1 vaccines offer good cross-protection against different H5N1 variants, and several companies are working on universal flu vaccines and antivirals that would protect against all known strains of influenza (What Is Bird Flu, 2012).

The drug Tamiflu and Relenza used for the flu virus should work against bird flu, although more studies are needed. These drugs must be given soon after symptoms appear. Unfortunately, H5N1 in humans can be a severe illness requiring hospitalization, isolation, and or intensive care (What Is Bird Flu, 2012). In conclusion I talked about what is the bird flu, how humans can be infected with the bird flu, how the bird flu can be passed from one persona to another person, I talked about the bird flu in the United States, what are the symptoms of bird flu in humans, and is there a vaccine or a treatment for the bird flu. As well as the known drugs currently being used to treat the bird flu if any cases happen to come up.


What is bird flu? (2012). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/what-know-about-bird-flu?page=3

Updated: Apr 29, 2023
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Understanding the Transmission of Bird Flu in Humans. (2016, Nov 21). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/bird-flu-essay

Understanding the Transmission of Bird Flu in Humans essay
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