The Bird flu or avian influenza is a viral disease that is spread around the world. Birds and poultry are mainly affected by this. However, especially in Asia, several hundred people have also contracted the bird flu.
The Bird flu is also known as avian influenza and has been known for over 100 years. There are only a few, but very disease-causing, bird flu viruses. Viruses of the influenza A / H5N1 subtype can cause serious damage in poultry keeping.
Many animals can perish from this infection. For this reason, this severe form of bird flu in animals is also known as avian influenza. If there is very close contact between infected animals and humans, there is also the possibility that humans will become infected.
The cause is based on a certain pathogen, namely the Bird flu-Virus. This is one of the so-called influenza A viruses, which also occur in normal people with flu viruses. The influenza A virus comes in the subspecies H and N subtypes. The letters designate the proteins of the virus envelope hemagglutinin and neuraminidase.
If influenza A viruses appear in a person, they usually belong to the subtypes H1, H2 and H3. The subtypes H5 and H7 are often responsible for the outbreak of avian influenza. Migratory birds such as ducks, chickens and turkeys are particularly affected. Pigs, horses, cats and humans are much less infected.
Chickens, turkeys and ducks are primarily affected by bird flu. In animals, the disease manifests itself in the form of fever, reluctance to eat, diarrhea and the combs turning black. Mutation can also make humans infected with bird flu. The viruses H5N1 and H7N9 are particularly dangerous. Most of the time, bird flu is harmless in humans; in some cases, the disease can become severe.
The incubation period ranges from a few hours to several days. The first symptoms in humans appear in a flash and resemble a flu. The affected person suffers a high fever and gets severe headache, sore throat and muscle pain. Cough and shortness of breath also occur. The disease is more rarely initiated by nosebleeds or bleeding from the mucous membranes.
As it progresses, bird flu focuses on the respiratory tract. Pneumonia and even failure of the respiratory organs are the result. The patients have an increase in liver values. The white and red blood cells decrease and anemia develops.
Furthermore, kidney function disorders occur and the patient suffers from cardiac arrhythmias. Nearly half of all patients hospitalized with avian flu die from lung failure. This can be attributed to the fact that it is a pathogen previously unknown to our immune system.
The Bird flu manifests itself in humans through symptoms that also occur with severe flu. The first sign is usually a high fever, which is accompanied by coughing and shortness of breath. Diarrhea can also occur. Abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea are rare. Body aches, headaches and sore throats, on the other hand, do not occur in all cases. In very severe cases, pneumonia can even develop.
If there is a suspicion of bird flu, the diagnosis is made by a pathogen detection. Reliable test procedures are available with which bird flu viruses can be detected within a few hours. A throat or nose swab and a coughed up bronchial secretion can also serve as additional material for tests. Avian flu is suspected when the person in question shows flu-like symptoms after coming into contact with an infected animal.
The course of bird flu can be very different in a person. This can lead to no complaints at all, from mild cold symptoms to severe pneumonia. In this case, bird flu can also be fatal. Bird flu is often very severe in humans.
If a person suffers from normal flu and bird flu at the same time, the genetic material of the different viruses can be mixed and modified. This poses a high risk because these mixed viruses would be more easily transmitted from person to person than the avian flu viruses. This can trigger an epidemic in the further course.
One of the possible consequences of bird flu is the so-called cytokine storm (hypercytokinemia). This is a life-threatening immune system derailment. As a result, there is a feedback link between immune cells and cytokines. The adaptive immune response fails and the immune system overreacts.
Immune system cells such as macrophages or T cells release considerable amounts of cytokines, which leads to pronounced inflammation. In the further course there is a threat of severe pneumonia (influenza pneumonia). Failure of the organs and acute lung failure are also conceivable. In such cases, the patient needs intensive medical therapy and artificial ventilation.
Avian flu threatens additional symptoms such as a lack of white blood cells, a lack of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), a septic shock or anemia (anemia). Some patients also develop kidney failure (kidney failure). In extreme cases, the kidneys fail completely.
Toxic shock is one of the most serious consequences of bird flu. The reason for this is the body's much more radical defense reaction to bird flu viruses in contrast to the usual flu viruses. In the worst case scenario, multiple organ failure occurs, which leads to the death of the patient.
Death occurs either from lung failure or kidney failure. Avian influenza is particularly dangerous when avian influenza viruses and common influenza viruses collide. This makes it easier for these mixed forms of viruses to be transmitted from one person to another.
If the general state of health deteriorates within a few hours or several days, this should be interpreted as a warning signal. There is a need for action, as bird flu can lead to severe disease. A doctor is required to clarify the cause of the condition and to make a diagnosis. Headaches, irregularities in the neck area or muscle discomfort are the first signs of an existing illness.
If the person concerned complains of sudden nosebleeds or disorders of the mucous membranes, he should discuss the perceived changes with a doctor. If breathing is impaired, general malaise or a feeling of illness, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Internal heaviness, insomnia, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue or exhaustion are other complaints that should be examined more closely by a doctor. Coughs, sputum, or sweats should also be assessed by a doctor. If you experience breathlessness, panic or fear, you should act immediately. An emergency doctor must be alerted in an acute situation.
In order to avoid complications and reduce further risks, the instructions of the emergency services must be followed until the doctor arrives. Since bird flu is a highly contagious disease, people who have been in the immediate vicinity of a sick person should have their own health checked as a precaution.
Therapy for a Bird flu aims to fight the viruses and alleviate the symptoms. Appropriate virus-killing drugs are then used against the viruses. These are also known as antivirals. Painkillers and antipyretic drugs are suitable to alleviate the symptoms.
By avoiding any contact with infected animals, one can Bird flu be prevented. However, the risk of infection is very low, even when there is contact with infected animals. Around 200 million animals worldwide have died of bird flu. Only about 500 people were infected with the virus.
Despite the low risk, appropriate precautionary measures should be observed. Above all, this includes avoiding contact with infected animals. Should contact still exist, thorough hand hygiene should be observed. Furthermore, poultry and eggs should be boiled or fried for a long time.
The viruses are killed by heating at 70 degrees Celsius. You should avoid eating raw or half-cooked poultry meat. Anyone who finds sick or dead wild birds should never touch them, but inform the responsible veterinary office. A normal flu vaccination does not help against the bird flu viruses. So far there is no vaccination against bird flu.
In most cases, those affected by bird flu are dependent on rapid and, above all, early treatment by a doctor. The follow-up care measures are usually significantly limited and are almost not available to the person affected. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted at the first symptoms and signs of this disease so that complications or other complaints can no longer occur in the further course.
As a rule, bird flu cannot heal itself. The disease itself is usually treated by taking various drugs. The person affected should ensure that they are taken regularly and that the dosage is correct in order to counteract the symptoms correctly and permanently.
If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, a doctor should be consulted first. Furthermore, bed rest is recommended so as not to unnecessarily burden the body. In some cases, therefore, the support and help of one's own family with this disease is very important, which can also alleviate depression and other mental disorders. With proper treatment, avian flu does not reduce the life expectancy of the person affected or otherwise limit it.
If typical bird flu symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath or malaise occur after contact with potentially sick animals, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor must be informed of the suspicion so that the necessary quarantine measures can be initiated.
Patients who are sick with bird flu must comply with medical guidelines. Hospital treatment is usually required. After discharge, rest and bed rest apply. Symptoms such as fever and gastrointestinal complaints can persist for a few days. The usual general measures apply, such as light diet, plenty of sleep and avoiding stress. The physical warning signs must be observed. In case of doubt, the doctor must be informed, as there is a risk of the disease being spread.
The bird flu should have completely subsided after one to two weeks. As part of the medical check-up, any residues of the H5N1 pathogen can be determined. If the pathogen has been completely killed by the medical treatment, no further measures are necessary. The cause of the disease should be determined so that other people are protected from infection. At the same time, the health department and epidemic protection authority must also be involved.