Avian influenza is a disease that is more commonly seen in birds but can also spread to humans.
It can be fatal to humans.
It has wreaked havoc on bird populations around the globe.
Here is information about avian influenza, including symptoms, how it is detected in humans and methods for prevention.
Avian influenza, or bird flu, is more commonly seen in wild birds, but it can also spread to domestic poultry and to humans.
The risk of a human catching avian influenza is low.
It can be passed from bird to human, or from human to human. It spreads through infected birds’ saliva, mucus and feces.
Avian influenza is rare in humans and much more common in birds.
Avian influenza can be a serious threat to humans who contract it. The symptoms can be mild or severe.
It can be fatal to humans when it leads to pneumonia.
Those who work with animals closely are at higher risk of catching the disease, although the overall risk is still low.
Since 2003, there have been just over 850 human cases on a global scale and 457 of those cases were fatal, giving the disease a 53% fatality rate in humans, according to The National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC).
While the fatality rate for humans is high, there is a near 100% fatality rate for birds with the disease.
It can also spread very quickly among animals because they often don’t show many symptoms of the disease.
Humans who catch avian influenza typically experience no symptoms to mild symptoms.
Those with severe cases will experience common flu-like symptoms such as cough, headache, shortness of breath, sore throat, fever, chills, fatigue and runny nose.
Avian influenza is diagnosed through laboratory testing.
You can protect yourself and other animals in your care or that you work with on a day-to-day basis by following safety practices.
Use protective gear such as gloves and eye protection when handling possibly infected birds.
Also, keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes after coming in direct or indirect contact with birds.
Wash your hands as frequently as you can and change your clothes after dealing with birds.
There are also precautions to keep birds safe.
Keep their habitat spotless, keep equipment clean, buy birds only from reputable vendors, limit visitors coming in contact with the birds, avoid contact with wild birds — and have a plan in case one or more birds become sick.