Bird Flu – Waiting In The Wings
Avian influenza is spreading at an alarming rate and if it continues its flight soon it would turn into another pandemic.
Starting in the mid-2003 in South-East Asia, the pathogenic avian flu is the largest and most severe form bird flu going by the number of countries it has affected. The H5N1 virus that typically affects the bird populace has proved lethal. So far it has caused the death or destruction of an estimated 150 million birds in countries like Vietnam, Japan, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Indonesia, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Turkey, Romania and Malaysia. There are unconfirmed reports of bird flu from India and France also.
The H5N1 virus is also of serious concern for human health. It has been found to be highly contagious form of virus and can easily transmit to humans through the contact of excretal or nasal secretions from infected birds. If not detected and treated early, the bird flu can prove fatal. And if precautionary measures are not taken at the earliest, it could change into a form that is highly infectious and could easily spread from person to person. Such a change could mark the start of flu pandemic. Already, a number of countries have reported confirmed human cases and even deaths due to avian influenza and this number is constantly on the rise.
Bird Flu Prevention
‘Prevention is the best cure’ goes the famous adage. The precautionary measures initiated in anticipation go a long way in curbing aggravation.
Firstly, the poultry farm owners must send random samples of their birds for thorough examination to the nearest veterinary/avian lab. All the infected birds must be immediately culled and the others properly vaccinated. The workers at the poultry farms must cover themselves properly so as to avoid a direct contact with the infected secretions from birds.
It is perfectly safe to eat poultry products provided the food is thoroughly and properly cooked. It is believed that the avian influenza virus cannot survive temperatures above 700 C. Juices from raw poultry and poultry products should not be allowed during food preparation to touch or mix with items eaten raw. One must wash his hands properly with soap and hot water after coming in contact with the poultry products.
Bird Flu Treatment
Though vaccines are available to counter seasonal influenza but no such shot has been developed till date against the H5N1 virus.
Only two drugs are found to be effective against the deadly avian flu – Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir). These drugs are effective only if taken within 48 hours of occurrence of first symptoms. The inhibitive factors regarding bird flu treatment seem to be the prohibitive costs and the limited production of these drugs.
For convenience, the patients can buy Tamiflu online only after proper diagnosis and prescription for the drug.
The bird flu is certainly a potential pandemic threat and must be addressed globally on humanitarian basis.