Bird flu, scientifically known as avian flu, is a virus that likes to grow in the lower respiratory tract. The lower respiratory system begins in the trachea, and proceeds through the bronchial tubes into the lungs. People who are exposed to bird flu often feel the onslaught of symptoms very dramatically and quickly. They develop high fevers, deep coughs, conjunctivitis, achy muscles, and severe diarrhea. Symptoms of pneumonia follow, as the illness spreads to nearby organ. When the infection attacks the blood through the pulmonary system, the kidneys and heart begin to fail.
High Risk Factors
Children are especially susceptible to bird flu. Their little systems do not always have the necessary immunities to prevent the virus from growing. Poultry farmers also are at high risk of exposure to Avian Flu. It is not uncommon to slaughter entire flocks if this virus rears its ugly head in the local community. Farmers do this to prevent the spread of disease, since bird flu is highly contagious, and very deadly.
Anyone who has been exposed to contaminated birds is at risk of developing avian flu. A sick bird’s feathers may spread the germs, as well as its saliva and droppings. Infected birds landing on surfaces may also spread germs where they rest. If a person becomes infected with bird flu, they can infect others, since the germ has been known to mutate and adapt to new hosts. Thankfully, the virus is slow to mutate, and it is much more difficult for people to spread bird flu to other people.
Avian Flu seems to be more confined to Asia, parts of Europe, Near East, and Africa. These parts of the world have had the most severe outbreaks. However, since birds migrate, wild birds are capable of infecting domesticated birds. Therefore, anyone can be unexpectedly exposed to this virus.
• High Fever: Fever comes on suddenly with bird flu. It usually begins at around 102 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Fever develops to help people fight infection. When people become infected with bird flu, their fevers rapidly increase, as their bodies try to defend against the illness. The fever can lasts up to several days.
• Deep Cough: Bird flu seems to multiply more easily in the lower respiratory system. People will often develop a severe cough that stems from deep in their lungs. Their bronchial tubes will become severely irritated, and swell. Tightness of the chest is not uncommon.
• Conjunctivitis: Bird flu is spread through contamination. If someone has been contaminated on their hands, and then rubs their eyes, conjunctivitis can develop. The outer membrane covering the whites of the eye, as well as the eyelid becomes infected. The eyes develop become crusty, and the whites of the eye turn pink.
• Achy Muscles: Viruses are enemies of the body. When they enter the system, many things begin to happen. In bird flu, the virus attacks the lower respiratory system. As it does so, it rapidly spreads to the blood and throughout the body. This causes the body to get tired, and ache. The body signals its need to rest by developing achy muscles. Rest usually allows the body to rejuvenate itself, and defend against illness.
• Severe Diarrhea: Viruses need to multiply. As they do this, they spread to surrounding tissue. Since bird flu thrives in the lower respiratory system, it has an easy exit into the pulmonary system which transports blood. When the bird flu virus invades the blood, it also attacks the digestive system. Severe diarrhea results, as the virus spreads throughout the body.
Complications of Bird Flu
Once the bird flu virus has entered the system, complications can happen quickly. Pneumonia and respiratory distress make it difficult to breathe. As the lungs begin to fill with fluid, major organs have trouble functioning. The kidneys can no longer filter out foreign substances effectively. They begin to shut down. The heart is strained because the blood cannot get enough oxygen to deliver nutrients to the rest of the body.
Bird flu can be very dangerous, especially in areas where it is more prominent. Scientists are concerned that it will mutate and create an epidemic in the future. To prevent this, researchers have developed vaccines that should protect against infection. There are also bird flu kits available. These kits contain face masks, gloves, sterile wipes, and even body suits. Guidelines have been written for travelers.
The entire world mobilized to protect people from the dreaded bird flu virus. Individual governments, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), worked together to combat a feared epidemic. Their efforts and surveillance have been successful. The bird flu seems to be contained, as fewer people develop symptoms of the dreaded illness.