Symptoms and prevention of avian influenza: is it dangerous for humans?

May 2, 2022  22:48

The worst bird flu outbreak in years has hit the United States, killing more than 24 million birds.

The H5N1 virus struck commercial and backyard poultry in 29 states and caused about 250 outbreaks, the Centers for Disease Control reported.

However, public health officials say the risk of transmission to the public is low, USA Today writes.

The dominant strain of the virus currently circulating is called H5N1. The virus flares up among wild birds, but can spread to domestic birds and lead to rapid and massive outbreaks.

Symptoms of avian influenza are much the same as those of seasonal influenza. They may include cough, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Severe infections can lead to pneumonia requiring hospitalization. Sometimes the infection causes fever, less often vomiting and diarrhea.

The World Health Organization previously reported that since 2003, 863 cases of the H5N1 virus have been confirmed in 18 countries, resulting in 455 deaths.

But the H5N1 virus poses little danger to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Most infected people become infected after "close, prolonged and unprotected contact with infected birds."

The best prevention for bird flu is to avoid prolonged contact with birds. Those who work closely with poultry, hunt or keep their own birds are advised to wear gloves, masks and eye protection.

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