Sidenote: Hope you're finding this useful? I have always been curious about this matter. And when I found very little quality information about it, I decided to share a part of what I've learned about it - which is why this article came to be written. Read on.
It started out as a natural influenza virus being carried naturally among wild birds which carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.
Avian influenza does not normally infect species other than birds and pigs. But humans came down with the bird flu in Hong Kong in 1997, when the H5N1 strain infected 18 humans, 6 of whom died.
What is the bird flu and why are we killing chickens?
More recently a virulent form of avian flu has swept through 10 countries in Asia, killing thousands of chickens and ducks and possibly wild birds as well. In four countries, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, the flu has also infected people, most of whom are believed to have had close contact with infected chickens. The governments in those countries have culled millions of birds in an effort to stop the spread.
Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but more than 100 confirmed cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997 according to the World Health Organisation.
The difference in this virus, known as H5N1, compared to human flu and pneumonia is that the avian form spreads through the body at a very fast rate and affects the lungs which quickly fill with fluid. Symptoms include: fever, sore throat, cough and, in several of the fatal cases, severe respiratory distress caused by viral pneumonia.
What is the bird flu and why do people think it will turn into a pandemic?
What has got health officials worried is that the H5N1 virus is able to mutate rapidly and picks up genetic material from viruses affecting other animals. There is then the very real possibility of wide scale human infection caused by a mutation of a new virus from people who are infected with both the bird flu and human influenza virus at the same time. The more birds that get infected, the greater the danger to people and the increased likelihood that a new 'super virus' could be formed.
If this occurs then the virus, like the common cold, could spread very rapidly and inflict a high mortality rate - particularly on the young, the elderly and people already sick.
What is the bird flu and is there a vaccine? While the Tamiflu vaccine may be effective against the bird flu virus, it is in short supply. The other MAJOR factor is that there is no guarantee that this vaccine will be effective against the mutated strain of the new virus and health officials advise that this could be many months away.
What is the bird flu and what can I do to protect myself?
Best advice is to avoid the possibility of exposure and to boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet (more omega 3 fatty acids, less sugar, fried foods and omega 6 to begin)and by supplementing with nutrients known to improve the function of the immune system - such as Selenium and Vitamins A, C and E.
- The bird flu or H5N1 virus occurs naturally in wild birds and may be spread to domesticated fowls and pigs.
- Recently there have human infections in several countries in Asia as a result of contact with infected birds and pigs.
- The virus reads through the human boy very rapidly and affects the lungs, which fill with fluid.
- Health officials are concerned about the possibility of widespread human contamination resulting in a new and very deadly virus that would spread easily between humans ands inflict a high mortality rate.
- While there is a vaccine for the H5N1 bird flu virus, it is in short supply and ay not offer any resistance to a new bird flu virus.
- Antioxidant supplements are very effective in boosting the immune system d provide some natural protection against the virus
Paul Newland is a health writer, sports training consultant and martial arts instructor and runs the Global-Longevity.com website. He is the author of numerous health information books and guides, including the Wellness Report and the Bird Flu Report - available Free through Global-Longevity.com.