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Although wild birds carry the viruses, they are usually unaffected by symptoms of bird flu. It is domesticated birds (chickens, ducks and turkeys) in which avian flu symptoms cause sickness and sometimes death. The symptoms of bird flu in domesticated poultry may be mild causing ruffled feathers and low egg production or severe causing disease that affects multiple organs and death in 90-100% of flocks in as little as 48 hours. It is believed that the degree of difference in avian flu symptoms is related to the strain of the flu virus infecting the birds.
Avian flu symptoms do not usually occur in humans, however 239 confirmed cases have been reported in humans since 2003, according to statistics compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO). 140 deaths worldwide have been attributed to symptoms of the bird flu.
Human cases of avian flu symptoms have been reported in many countries in Asia and the Middle East, but most have occurred in small villages and outlying areas of Indonesia and Vietnam. Most confirmed cases of avian flu symptoms in humans resulted from contact with infected domesticated birds or contact with surfaces contaminated by the feces and fluids from infected birds. The symptoms of bird flu in humans are typical flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. But, in some confirmed human cases the symptoms of bird flu have included eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases, acute respiratory distress and other severe and life-threatening complications. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes that the wide range of avian flu symptoms in humans may depend on which strain of avian bird flu virus the person was infected with.
Avian flu symptoms alone are not sufficient to confirm the diagnosis of avian influenza in humans or birds, because the symptoms of bird flu are so similar to typical flu symptoms and other viral infections. In order to make a confirmed diagnosis of avian influenza in humans, a swab of the nose or throat must be taken within the first few days after suspected symptoms of bird flu are noticed or two separate blood tests must be taken to confirm the presence of H5N1. One of a number of flu viruses that exist among birds. Only H5N1 flu virus is believed to cause the severe avian flu symptoms that have led to death in more than 50% of the confirmed cases.
While highly contagious among birds, avian flu symptoms are not easily transmitted by human to human contact. The only confirmed cases of avian flu caused by contact with an infected person have been among family members who remained in close contact with the person suffering from the symptoms of the bird flu. This is unlike seasonal flu and SARS which are highly contagious viruses among humans. The concern over a pandemic (worldwide spread) arises from the fact that viruses mutate. So, if the current avian bird flu virus were to mutate into one that was highly contagious then a worldwide outbreak of avian flu symptoms could occur.
If you do not have contact with birds that are infected with the avian flu virus and you do not take care of people who have contracted the avian flu virus, then you will not develop symptoms of bird flu from the virus as it currently exists. If the virus should mutate to a more contagious form, you can still protect yourself from severe avian flu symptoms in the same way that you would protect yourself from seasonal flu. While no one is sure why what appears to be the same virus would cause mild or moderate symptoms of bird flu in some people and death in others, it is known that a healthy human immune system can fight off most any flu bug in 7-10 days. To learn more about products that can help you keep a healthy immune system, visit www.immune-system-booster-guide.com.
Patsy Hamilton has more than twenty years experience as a health care professional and currently writes information articles for the Immune System Booster Guide. To learn more about flus, bugs and viruses and to learn how to protect yourself from them, visit http://www.immune-system-booster-guide.com.