Bird flu facts
What is the Bird Flu?
Avian influenza, or "Bird Flu," is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect only birds, and less commonly, pigs. Avian influenza viruses are highly species-specific, but have, on rare occasions, crossed the species barrier to infect humans.
Can humans get the Bird Flu?
Bird Flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but more than 100 confirmed cases of human infection with Bird Flu viruses have occurred since 1997. The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains situation updates and cumulative reports of human cases of avian influenza
Does the Bird Flu spread easily from birds to humans?
No. There are a small number of human cases compared with the huge number of birds affected and the numerous associated opportunities for human exposure. It is not presently understood why some people, and not others, become infected following similar exposure.
How do most humans become infected with the Bird Flu?
Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from direct or close contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chickens, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretions and excretions from infected birds. The spread of avian influenza viruses from an ill person to another person has been reported very rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person. During an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry, there is a possible risk to people who have direct or close contact with infected birds or with surfaces that have been contaminated with secretions and excretions from infected birds.
How is the Bird Flu detected in humans?
A laboratory test is needed to confirm avian influenza in humans.
How is Bird Flu treated in humans?
Studies done in laboratories suggest that the prescription medicines approved for human influenza viruses should work in treating avian influenza infection in humans.
Should I wear a surgical mask to prevent exposure from Bird Flu?
Currently, wearing a mask is not recommended for routine use (e.g., in public) for preventing influenza exposure.
Does the seasonal flu vaccine protect me from the Bird Flu?
No. Influenza vaccine for the 2005-2006 season does not provide protection against avian influenza.
Is it safe to eat poultry and poultry products?
Yes. In areas free of disease, poultry and poultry products can be prepared and consumed as usual (following good hygenic practices and proper cooking), with no fear of acquiring infection with the H5N1 virus.
We have a small flock of chickens. Is it safe to keep them?
Yes. In the United States, there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors potential infection of poultry and poultry products by avian influenza viruses.
Information available at AllNetHealth.com and BirdFluFacts.com, 2006