Avian Flu Threat Exaggerated

Disconcerting headlines about avian influenza has caused widespread concern. Warnings have been issued to brace for an onslaught of a pandemic that could paralyze and decimate entire nations. Countries that showed cases of avian flu were scrutinized closely. Travel stopped to areas where poultry was affected. Despite reassurance to the consumer, buyers felt unsure about choosing chicken for dinner. It has been stated before, that at this point the virus of the avian flu has not made a mutation, and it is not passed from human to human. It can be transmitted from diseased fowl to human who are in close contact with the diseased animal.
The word pandemic seems to trigger a response of fear, but it has to be mentioned that a pandemic is not new. It is universally accepted that there have been 3 pandemics in the 20-th century. Pandemics are defined by an increased number of influenza deaths. One influenza wave hit in 1968, prior to this the year 1957 showed a similar picture. Pandemics are not all equal. The outbreak of influenza in 1918/19 was severe, and young and old were affected alike. Death was in many cases due to the primary viral infection.
In the meantime flu preparedness is much more common than in previous years. Flu shots are available, antibiotics can help treat secondary infection, laboratories are working on vaccines for new influenza strains, and lately antiviral medications have come into the picture.
While the work of scientists is invaluable, in some cases the statements are too simplistic. The avian flu virus H5N1 could mutate. Looking at the facts, the virus has been around since 1997, and it has not mutated. Reporters write stories about possible future pandemics, and there is worry in the population. They need to know the truth! The truth is that we should plan. The truth is also, that a pandemic is not more imminent today than it has been since 1918. In fact it is not more imminent than a multitude of other emergencies. The outbreak of SARS has shown that it is the front-line public health and hospital staff that handles the virus most of all. The production of vaccines and a strong vaccination program is being worked on. This does not leave the rest of the population with nothing what they can do.

Avian Flu Threat Exaggerated

Avian Flu Threat Exaggerated

Good hygienic measures have to be followed. The most important one (and often neglected one) is hand washing. It does not stop a pandemic like the one in 1918/19, but it certainly makes a difference to annual influenza rates. The annual vaccination against influenza is a highly effective weapon against the influenza outbreak that happens every year, and improved vaccines will make a difference between wellness and the opposite!

More information about:

The flu: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/flu/

The swine flu: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/swine-flu/

Reference: The Medical Post, June 20, 2006, page 47

Last edited Nov. 1, 2014


Bird Flu Can Affect Humans

Avian Influenza has received significant attention in the media: some articles label it as the new threat in influenza viruses, while others dismiss it as ” only a flu that will infect birds.” Outbreaks have been reported mainly from Asia, but the nasty virus has made it into poultry farms in North America. There is concern that avian influenza could be transmitted from uncooked birds or bird products onto humans. Avian influenza A has indeed been detected in imported frozen duck meat and infected poultry eggs.
Of particular concern is the virus strain H5N2, as it has the propensity to mutate rapidly. At this point the risk of human-to-human, and transmission remains low, but acquiring the infection from sick birds is a reality. The course tends to be more severe in people older than 12 years, while the disease in children tended to be milder and self-limiting. The symptoms in the adult age group presented as follows:
-Fever (100% of the affected patients)
-Upper respiratory tract infections (67%)
-Pneumonia (58%)
-Gastrointestinal symptoms (50%)
Abnormal laboratory test results were:
-Elevated serum aminotransferases (50%)
-Pancytopenia and bone marrow hemophagocytosis (16%)
Guidelines from the Center for Disease Control suggest that travelers to countries experiencing outbreaks of avian flu should avoid areas with live poultry (live animal markets or poultry farms).

Bird Flu Can Affect Humans

Bird Flu Can Affect Humans

Hand hygiene in the form of soap and water or alcohol-base hand sanitizers is important. All poultry products should be cooked, as heat is effective in killing viruses. It is also important to inform the health care provider about flu-like symptoms associated with recent travel; so avian influenza can be considered.
The current influenza vaccines have no protective value against the avian flu. Studies suggest that anti-viral prescription medication may work. As the viruses are becoming resistant to current medications, they are expected to have limitations in successful treatment.

More info about the Flu: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/flu/

Reference: The Canadian Journal of CME, April 2005, page 49

Look for more info about the bird flu at the CDC site of the US

Last edited October 28, 2014


Worldwide Alert For Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

There is a new strain of avian influenza that in the beginning was confined to transmission among birds only. However, with 8 deaths in humans reported in Asia by the end of January 2004 (7 children and one adult) there is a fear that the virus is possibly genetically adapting towards transmission between humans, which could cause a worldwide flu epidemic similar to the flu in 1918 where more than 40 million people died.

Presently the avian flu has killed a high percentage of chickens and ducks in Vietnam, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Laos. Recently Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have also been added to the countries where the avian flu has arrived in birds. The governments are busy killing chickens off by the millions in an attempt to stop transmission to man.

All of the human cases were found in people who lived close to chicken farms or who handled diseased chickens.
The virus strain has been characterized as the type A, H5N1 strain (= the H5N1 flu), of the avian influenza. This strain has surfaced in the past on two occasions. First, it hit 18 persons in Hong Kong in 1997 of which 8 persons died. With the help of strict isolation methods an epidemic was prevented. Secondly, in March of 2003 a father and son from Hong Kong had traveled to southern China and they returned sick with the flu. The father died, the son recovered. Disease investigation showed that the source of infection in all of these cases was contact with diseased birds or with live, infected poultry in open markets.

Worldwide Alert For Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

Worldwide Alert For Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

Unfortunately the present flu vaccines will not give protection against this strain. WHO officials had an emergency meeting at the end of January 2004 to discuss the strategy for preventing a worldwide epidemic with
this new influenza strain. Production of a new vaccine will take several months (up to 6 to 8 months), if it is done in the conventional way. The cheaper antiviral antibiotics such as amantadine and rimantadine that normally would cover an A type influenza are ineffective against this new flu strain. There are newer antiviral antibiotics, which are effective, but they are more expensive. With mass production they could become more affordable and this could interfere with the spread between humans, if the virus should adapt to this transmission behavior.

At the present time migratory birds that are infected with the flu virus are spreading the avian flu to birds in other neighboring countries. In the meantime farmers who are not satisfied with only a 10% reimbursement by their governments for forcefully killed chickens are selling chickens on open meat markets, some of which harbor the avian flu, and this is another possible mode of transmission. David A. Halvorson, a veterinary medicine doctor from the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul stated that the risk for avian flu in the US at the present time is low as the US is not importing any live poultry from Asia.

In an interview between Doug Kaufman from MD Consult and the CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding on Jan. 29, 2004 it was learnt that 10 patients had died so far in Vietnam and Thailand. Six WHO scientist in Vietnam are working with officials to contain the avian flu in Asia so that it won’t migrate similar to another outbreak of the same type of avian flu strain in Hong Kong in 1997. It appears that the killing of chickens has made some difference. On the other hand the spreading of the disease among wild ducks is of some concern.

The CDC and WHO are working together on this and are pushing for accelerated production of live and of inactivated vaccines against avian flu. This is a type of vaccine, which would make it impossible for future avian flu strains to cross into human hosts. The mass production of antiviral drugs is also being pursued. Dr. Gerberding stated that oseltamivir (brand name: Tamiflu), one of the newer antiviral drugs, would be effective in treating this type of avian flu (cited in Medscape Medical News Jan. 29, 2004).

Dr. Neill, an infection specialist and professor of medicine at the Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, said that in case of a future human breakout of an epidemic with this flu the following instructions should be followed: 1. cover your mouth and nose with paper tissue when you sneeze or cough 2. frequently wash your hands with soap and water 3. use designated containers for disposal of the used paper tissues 4. symptomatic patients should use face masks to prevent the spread of the flu.

This article is based on the Lancet (The Journal) Vol. 363, Vol. 9406 (Jan. 31, 2004), on news stories from MD Consult and on Medscape news stories.

More info about the Flu: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/flu/

Link to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on avian (bird) flu

Last edited October 26, 2014