Whether it is something to be feared of, avian influenza commonly known as bird flu is certainly present on our planet. Possibly wide spreading contagious or even deadly for humans, bird flu has brought great controversy to our society.
The causes of avian influenza also known as bird flu are different types of influenza viruses. The disease is common with wild birds around the planet but they seem not to be affected by the infection. On the other hand domestic poultry like chicken, turkeys, ducks can catch the flu through bird to bird transmission, the mortality rate being very high. Even more, scientists have discovered different types of bird flu: H5N1, H1N2 and H3N2, the former being the most commonly spread. The letters and numbers that give the name of the disease represent the various types of proteins forming the virus: Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidaze.
Furthermore, there have been cases of the H5N1 virus affecting humans. All the people infected with the avian flu are living in extreme poverty and in close quarters with their domestic birds. Another example of possible transmission of the H5N1 virus is to workers of poultry farms who are in everyday contact with the infected birds and their secretions and remains that are highly contagious.
Moreover, it is unlikely for the disease to be transmitted from one human to another. Be that as it may, the main concern in scientific circles is the mutation of the virus. This replication can cause new avian influenza strains and it is not known whether they will be deadly for people or not. At the moment the little data on avian influenza in humans has made it impossible to create an efficient vaccine. Nonetheless, antiviral drugs do exist and they are well targeted in stopping the replication of the viral enzymes.
In the past years bird flu has enjoyed special attention from the media who have been more than happy to transform th infection into a 21th century Armageddon. Consequently, due to the bad publicity, a large majority of the world population has shifted to alternative medicine. Even more, there has been a decrease in vaccination against common diseases such as rubella, measles and even common flu which are known to be lethal unless protection and prevention methods are taken.
And so, nowadays there are no clear answers whether bird flu will become a world wide pandemic threatening our health and existence. But what is certain is that the H5N1 virus is present, it is constantly mutating and the need for a vaccine is greater now than ever.
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