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H5N1 Bird Flu

By Ryan Fyfe

Bird flu is the street name for the Influenza A virus, which is the virus that causes Avian flu. The name says it all, as Bird flu is a virus that is hosted by birds. With that said though it may infect several other species of mammals. First identified in Italy in around 1905 the virus is now known to exist worldwide. One strain of the H5N1 virus of avian influenza that first surfaced in 1997 has been identified as the most likely source of a future influenza pandemic around the world.

Different strains of the virus may infect various type of animals. These animals include including birds, pigs, horses, seals, whales. It is even known that the virus could reach humans in mass. Avian influenza quickly spreads in the air and in manure. Contaminated feed, water, equipment and clothing can also increase transmission. There is no proof at the moment that the virus can survive in well cooked meat.

The incubation period for Bird Flu is 3 to 5 days. Symptoms vary among animals. Virulent strains of the H5N1 virus can cause death within a few days.

Humans are affected with similar symptoms as other types of flu. Symptoms such as:

- Fever

- Cough

- Sore throat

- Muscle aches

- Conjunctivitis

In extreme cases, severe breathing problems and pneumonia can result which can be fatal. The result and the extremity of the infection will depend on the state of the infected person's immune system. Somtimes a victim will have been exposed to the strain before, and will be in part immune to the virus.

It's important to Note that victims will not experience the flu like symptoms all of the time. An example is a boy who experienced diarrhea and then rapidly went into a coma without developing the respiratory or flu-like symptoms. This situation suggests non-standard symptoms.



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