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Avian Flu

What is Avian Flu?

Avian flu is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. It was first identified in Italy in the early 1900s.

Avian flu is also called bird flu and avian influenza.

What Causes Avian Flu?

Avian flu is caused by a virus. The viruses are complex, with a number of subtypes and strains that vary considerably from one another.

Avian Flu and Birds

Migratory waterfowl and ducks are hosts birds. They carry the viruses that cause bird flu but are often unaffected. Host birds can spread the infection to domesticated chickens, turkeys and geese, resulting in severe epidemics that sicken and kill large numbers of birds, sometimes in a single day.

Avian Flu and Humans

Humans develop avian flu from contact with infected poultry and surfaces contaminated by sick birds. Humans can also develop avian flu from direct contact with another person who has avian flu.

Symptoms of Avian Flu in Birds

The most common symptoms of avian flu in birds are:

  • ruffled feathers
  • reduced egg production
  • respiratory distress

In some cases, domestic birds may die the same day symptoms appear.

Symptoms of Avian Flu in Humans

The most common symptoms of avian influenza in humans are:

Complications of Avian Flu

Life threatening complications of avian flu are:

  • viral pneumonia
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome

Can Avian Flu be Treated?

Yes. Currently the most common treatment used is a medication called Tamiflu. Tamiflu prevents the avian flu virus from escaping its host cell.

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