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H5N1 is getting closer to affecting humans

People believed that only birds could get affected by the A H5N1 influenza that is why they called it 'The bird flu'.

Influenza A affects naturally the wild birds, which only carry the virus and present no symptoms, but they transmit the virus to the poultry (chicken, turkey) which manifest the disease and 90% die.

Now, the virus has mutated and it can be transmitted to the human race from the poultry that shed the virus in their nasal secretions, saliva and feathers.

In the beginning the virus affected the poultry from Asia and in 1997 the virus transmitted to humans during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry in Hong Kong. 18 persons were affected and 6 died of a severe respiratory illness.

People who live very close to their poultry are exposed to the risk of being affected of a mutant species of the virus.

Some domestic birds do not have the symptoms of the infection (like ducks), they are only carriers of H5N1 and can transmit the virus further to other animals and to the owner.

According to World Health Organization, only in Asia, since 31 October 2006, 256 people got sick due to a direct contact with affected birds, and 156 of these persons died.

As time went by, H5N1 became resistant to some drugs used in the treatment of flu, and also started to infect mice and cats.

Due to the high rate of transmission, millions of poultry have been slaughtered in the effort of stopping the virus from infecting other birds and even humans.

Thailand had to face the fact that the virus can pass from human to human, when a whole family died because of bird flu. This causes more problems because an efficient vaccine has not yet been developed and this could lead to a global pandemic.

There are known some symptoms of bird flu: headache, fever, pain in the muscles, sore throat, chest pains, breathing problems, lethargy and conjunctivitis.

Due to the virus mutation, even those who have already suffered the disease and have defeated it are not safe, because their body will not be able to recognize the virus due to its change, and so, the antibodies the body made against flu last time will not work.
This is why people must be immunized every year with a new improved vaccine.

In the world now there exists also type B and C of influenza virus. The C one is not so dangerous, but the B one can cause more serious illness and seasonal epidemics.
The most dangerous one is type A, due to its fast process of antigenic drift (mutations).

Even though the media and the public got tired of hearing the same old thing about a possible global pandemic, it is the scientist's and government's responsibility to continue informing everyone about the evolution of the virus and of the possible risks related to it.

About the Author: So, if you want to find out more about bird flu prevention or even about symptoms of bird flu please click this link

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