As China’s death toll rises to 13, how safe are you? Non veggies

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A recent news has reported that more than 30,000 have been culled at the Central Poultry Development Organisation in Hesaraghutta near Bangalore due to presence of the H9N7 virus. Let’s not hit the panic button too soon and let us look at some things you have to know about the avian influenza.

Some Key facts:

• Expect for the H5N1 strain others strains doesn’t normaly affect humans.

• Still no cases of bird flu have been detected in India. Only 608 positive cases since 2003.

• The disease has a very high fatality rate unlike seasonal flu.

• It cannot spread from Human to Human. It can only spread from infected birds to humans.

• Eating eggs or chicken does not cause bird flu. Make sure you clean it properly before cooking.

• Experts believe that the H5N1 strain can cause a potential global pandemic if it starts evolving and starts spreading human to human.

So what is bird flu? How dangerous is it for humans?

It is an infectious viral disease which normally affects wild birds and can spread to domestic poultry. Affected birds are often culled in large scales to prevent the spread. It is one of the most dangerous strains and can effect mammals like humans if not kept in check. The problem arises when the strain mutates and spreads among humans and may cause a global pandemic.

How can you get bird flu?

In straightforward terms – If you come in close contact with infectious poultry. People who work in poultry farms are very vulnerable but as of now not even a single human case has been reported in India this year. Bird flu can be spread from bird excreta, skin and blood. Eating undercooked birds may be a cause of trouble. But if it is thoroughly cooked there is no way flu can survive.

What are the symptoms I should watch out for?

The typical symptoms of flu includes cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Once the disease becomes severe a person suffers from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, eye infections and could lead to respiratory failure and acute pneumonia. A common symptom can be infection in the lower respiratory tract. Difficulty in breathing can develop around five days after the initial symptoms.

Is there any medicine or vaccine to prevent bird flu?

There is no publicly-available vaccine against H5N1 yet. The most commonly used medicine to treat H5N1 in humans is Oseltamivir (also known as Tamiflu) which is an anti-viral that prevents the spread of flu in the body.

What are the precautions one should take to guard against bird flu?

Before and after handling meat aften clean your hands even if you are handling eggs. Cook it properly so that the virus does not survive. Contact the physician immediately once you see any symptoms. Maintain good hygiene levels.

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