Bird Flu and General Influenza Symptoms
The avian influenza virus affects birds in the majority of cases but infections of this influenza A virus can also occur in humans. Most cases of the avian flu developing in humans appear as a result of being in contact with poultry that is infected, such as turkeys, chickens and ducks. People who have not caught the flu virus directly from the birds will have been in contact with areas where waste or secretion from the dead birds has been found.
It is important to know who is at risk of contracting influenza symptoms, and if you are in close contact with someone who could possibly be a risk of developing the virus look out for the following symptoms:
- Severe respiratory system diseases
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches and pains
- Eye infections
Influenza symptoms of this strain are dependent on the type of virus that has led to the infection. And in order for a confirmed diagnosis of avian flu to be carried out a swab from the patients nose or throat has to be carried out and tested in laboratory conditions. This process is the only way that confirmation of avian influenza can be done. Influenza symptoms alone are not able to confirm the presence of this virus. Eggs and poultry that have been cooked and handled properly cannot themselves be responsible for the spread of this virus. The prescribed medication that has been approved for use on the influenza viruses in humans should be effective in treating the avian flu virus as well.
To protect from the risk of a possible infection it is important to do the following:
- Before and after touching and handling raw eggs and poultry wash your hands in warm, soapy water for 20 seconds minimum or more.
- Cook the eggs until the white of the egg and the yolk of the egg are firm
- Cook all poultry at 165º minimum and use a food thermometer to confirm temperature.
- To prevent any cross contamination from the raw poultry make sure the cutting board, and surfaces along with all tableware are cleaned with hot soapy water. And if this is not available an alcohol based (normally about 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer.
When you are travelling and planning to visit an area that is known to be affected or may become affected by the avian flu virus it is important to follow these precautions. Be aware and obey all the local health recommendations that are available. Avoid contact with domestic and wild birds and do not touch any surfaces that may have bird fluids or faeces on them. Do not eat any eggs or poultry that are either raw or undercooked and do not take part in excursions to food or farm markets where birds can be displayed and sold. By following these simple precautions it may reduce the risk and even prevent influenza symptoms developing. A seasonal flu vaccination will not provide protection against avian flu and as the influenza viruses can gain immunity to particular drugs it means certain medications may not work in treating influenza symptoms.