Bird Flu

Bird Flu

Bird flu is a disease caused by influenza type A virus infection that is transmitted by birds to humans. There are many types of bird flu viruses, but only a few can cause infection in humans.

Bird flu has been an epidemic in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, as well as some parts of Europe, and caused the death of some of its sufferers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the H5N1 bird flu virus has infected 862 people worldwide and caused the death of 455 people until 2020.

It should be noted that the symptoms of bird flu are similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. Therefore, if you experience symptoms of bird flu, immediately see a doctor to confirm the condition. Click the link below so that you can be directed to the nearest health facility:

  • Rapid Antibody Test
  • Antigen Swab  (Rapid Antigen Test)
  • PCR

Causes of Bird Flu

Bird flu is caused by  influenza  type A virus infection that originates from birds. Most types of bird flu viruses can only attack and infect poultry, either wild or farmed, such as chickens, ducks, geese, and birds.

However, there are several types of bird flu viruses that can infect humans, namely H5N1, H5N6, H5N8, and H7N9. In addition, there is the transmission of a new type of bird flu virus, the H10N3 type.

Poultry infected with bird flu will release the virus through saliva, mucus, and feces. Transmission of the virus can occur when a person makes direct contact with an infected bird, for example touching or inhaling a splash of liquid from the respiratory tract ( droplet ) of the bird.

Furthermore, the bird flu virus will enter the body if the person touches the area of ​​the eyes, nose, or mouth. It should be noted that human-to-human transmission of bird flu can also occur, but this condition is very rare.

In addition, a person is more at risk of being infected with the bird flu virus if they have the following factors:

  • Worked as a poultry farmer
  • Being close to infected poultry
  • Go to the area or place where bird flu infection occurs
  • Often consume meat or poultry eggs that are not ripe
  • Work as a health worker who treats bird flu sufferers
  • Have a family member suffering from bird flu

Bird Flu Symptoms

Bird flu symptoms generally only appear after 2-5 days of being exposed to this virus. The symptoms that arise in each sufferer can also vary, ranging from mild to severe. In general, bird flu sufferers will experience symptoms in the form of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

In some cases, other symptoms that can also arise include:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomachache
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding gums
  • Nosebleed
  • Chest pain
  • Red eyes ( conjunctivitis )

In cases of severe infection, bird flu can even cause pneumonia,  acute respiratory distress syndrome  (ARDS), respiratory failure, seizures, and nervous system disorders.

When should you go to the doctor?

Check yourself with a doctor  if you experience the symptoms of bird flu as mentioned above, especially if the symptoms appear after visiting an area that is experiencing a bird flu outbreak. Also make sure to tell the doctor if you have ever visited a poultry farm or market.

Bird flu can cause serious complications in some sufferers who have certain conditions, such as pregnant women, people with weak immunity, or people over 65 years old. If you have these conditions and experience bird flu symptoms, immediately check yourself with a doctor.

Bird Flu Diagnosis

The doctor will conduct an anamnesis or question and answer about the patient's complaints and symptoms, health history, travel history, and the patient's recent activities.

Further, the doctor will perform a physical examination that includes examination of vital signs, such as body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate, as well as a chest examination .

If the doctor suspects that the patient is infected with bird flu, further examination will be carried out to confirm the diagnosis, namely:

  • Nasal and throat swab cultures, to check for viruses in the nose or throat
  • PCR test, to find out the presence of the virus that causes bird flu
  • Blood test , to find out the level of white blood cells that work against infection in the body
  • Chest X- ray , to get a picture of the condition of the lungs

Bird Flu Treatment

Treatment for bird flu can vary, depending on the symptoms experienced. Patients who have been diagnosed with bird flu will be treated in an isolation room in the hospital to prevent transmission to other patients.

Antiviral drugs are the main drugs used to treat bird flu. Some antiviral drugs that are usually given are:

  • Oseltamivir
  • Peramivir
  • Zanamivir
  • Amantadine
  • Rimantadine

Antiviral drugs can relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and increase the patient's chances of recovery. This medicine must be consumed as soon as possible within 2 days after symptoms appear.

In addition to treatment, the antiviral drug can also be used as a drug to prevent bird flu. Therefore, this drug is sometimes given to people who have direct contact with the patient, such as the medical personnel who deal with the patient, or family members and relatives of the patient.

If the patient has a severe breathing disorder, such as hypoxemia , the doctor will install a breathing aid and a ventilator to help overcome it.

Complications of Bird Flu

Some of the complications that bird flu sufferers can experience are:

  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome  (ARDS)
  • Organ failure, such as heart failure and kidney failure
  • Death

Bird Flu Prevention

The best way to prevent bird flu infection is to prevent exposure to the virus. Some things that can be done are:

  • Avoid direct contact with poultry
  • Avoid direct contact with sick people
  • Maintain hygiene and  wash hands  regularly
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, before washing your hands
  • Consume poultry meat or eggs that have been cooked to maturity
  • Applying cough etiquette, that is by covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or folding the elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • Perform self-isolation when experiencing mild fever or flu symptoms to prevent the spread of the virus to people around
  • Do not visit areas or places where bird flu outbreaks occur

Until now, there is no vaccine that is specifically used to prevent the transmission of the bird flu virus. However, you can do the annual flu vaccination to help prevent worsening of the disease if you are exposed to annual flu and bird flu at the same time.

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