Could you imagine just tons of blood? Everywhere? Hundreds of birds piled up and ready to be burned in a mass burial? For many people around the world today, this is a normal thing for them. They must keep their guard up and always watch for signs of sickness among their flocks of birds.
In Italy in 1878 the Fowl Plague, later named the avian influenza, or H5N1, was discovered. The virus outbreaks, first mainly found in chickens, and then found in all types of poultry, would force poultry industries to lose millions of dollars in their birds. The two of the worst plagues of this virus in the United States, in 1924 and 1929, caused millions of domestic poultry, including chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks to be massacred by the hundreds for days.
It was discovered that the flu could also be picked up by humans in 1955. Humans could now get this virus by contracting it through an opening in the body. Rubbing your nose, eyes, or simply breathing in dust particles can all contribute to you contracting the virus. Most cases have only happened after someone directly touched the diseased bird and then themselves, but a few cases have been thought to be contracted through the air. It is also very possible to ingest the disease from your birds if your food isn’t cooked all the way or you have runny yolks. Since runny yolks haven’t been cooked all the way, the virus could still be alive. About 60% of the cases found in humans have been proven fatal. Even though it is very rare and unusual that the virus has been seen to move from one ill person to another person, it is still thought to possibly happen.
The way dometic foul get the disease is through wildfowl. If wild birds come and steal your domestic bird’s food and water your birds are at risk for contracting the disease. In order to tell whether or not your birds have avian influenza you can look at their appetite, loss in weight, misshapen eggs, runny nose, diarrhea, and discoloration in wattles or comb. Since all these factors are also symptoms of a normal bug, the most prominent way to tell whether your whole flock is at risk is if members of your flock die unexpectedly. If you find that any of your birds might have the avian flu it is best to call ahead and go to a veterinarian that way they can prepare and maintain the animal in case it does have it.
When a bird dies it is not always the avian flu. Actually, more often than not, it probably just died from a normal cold, or just got too old. It is pretty normal for a birds to die by itself, especially when it gets older. Old birds have less successful immune symptoms and cant fight off common colds as well as when they were younger. If you do suspect that it has the avian flu, which isn’t likely, you should not touch it or do anything with it. The avian flu is a serious thing and you should keep it where it is at and try and keep everything else away from it. You can usually tell if it was the avian flu if the dead bird has thick saliva coming out of their mouth and the color of their head is wrong. Usually when a bird dies they are stiff and look like they’re sleeping. When a bird dies from avian influenza their bodies are mushy and their heads are a greenish, purplish, blackish color. In chickens the avian influenza is like an Ebola. Their internal organs turn to moosh and start leaking out of them.
Like humans, in birds, the avian influenza starts out as normal flu symptoms. If you see any of these symptoms in your birds don’t panic, and just keep a close eye on them. If you think you might have contracted the avian influenza, don’t panic. You just need to contact your doctor and tell them what happened ahead of time before you go into the office. The doctors need to be able to contain you in case the virus has evolved to pass from human to human. Symptoms of this virus for humans include a fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and complications breathing. Just like the symptoms in birds, it is difficult to tell whether you have avian influenza or just a common flu. One of the best ways to tell which sickness it is is by going to a doctor. The avian influenza will mature much faster than the normal flu and it is way more difficult to treat. Since over half of the people diagnosed with this virus die, it is excruciatingly important to go see a doctor if your symptoms start getting severe. Even though the death point in humans is less gruesome than in the birds, it is still nothing to play around with and could very well potentially make you die.
You may be wondering what the actual name means. The actual name for the avian influenza, H5N1, is a combination between two proteins called hemagglutinin and neuraminidase. The numbers represent the genetic change of the protein. Different combinations can mean different symptoms for different animals. Some combinations aren’t harmful at all, and some are very deadly.
I’m confident that you have heard about influenza A, B and C. As it turns out, H5N1 (avian influenza) is a type of influenza A. While influenzas B and C only affect humans, influenza A can affect all kinds of animals as well as humans. Influenza B one of the more common types of flu and is usually associated with coughing and soreness. Influenza C is the most common and its symptoms are so mild that it can pass as a normal cold. The least common and most severe, is obviously influenza A. Influenza A is constantly changing and evolving so thats why scientists are keeping a close eye on it. All types of influenza A, not just H5N1, are at risk of becoming another flu epidemic. The virus is on the verge of being able to pass from person to person. Right now, the solution is to kill all the infected animals and burn them. What are we going to do when it starts passing from animals to humans, and then to other humans? We can’t just kill all the infected humans and hope it goes away. Scientists are trying to stop the viruses before they start evolving and transmitting in new ways.
It is a great idea to have the flu shot. Even though getting the avian flu is a lot less likely than getting the normal flu, having the flu shot is important. If for some crazy reason you end up with both flus at the same time, it can create a new horrifying virus. Scientists have a theory that if somehow the avian influenza, or any other influenza A virus merges with an influenza B virus, it can create a new type of virus and potentially create a new epidemic. The new virus could have the same effects as the avian influenza but be able to transfer from person to person like the influenza B virus. Scientists say the best way to prevent us from finding out is to keep an eye on the avian influenza and make sure it doesn’t start spreading from person to person.
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