Bird flu as the name implies is a disease that affects wild and domesticated birds (poultry and house birds); however very occasionally it affects human being , hence its importance. Until 1996,it was not known in human population, but in that year it affected one adult in the United Kingdom who developed eye infection after contact of his eye with duck feather. But this was a mild infection which healed easily.
Since November 2003, nearly 400 cases of human infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses have been reported by more than a dozen countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and the Near East.
Bird Flu is caused by Avian Influenza A virus, there are several types of this virus, all placed in groups and subgroups. Some are quite mild, infection of which is not life threatening, while others are quite severe.
Another feature of the virus is that it can change quickly into different forms. The bird flu causing viruses are Avian Influenza A H7N7, H7N2, H9N2, H7N3 and H5N1. The last group, H5N1, appears to be the most the serious and results in high death rate if it enters the human population.
The disease rarely spreads to humans by droplets (airborne infection) and by direct contact with infected birds or indirect contact via contaminated objects. Person to person spread though very rare as of today, is through droplets, direct and indirect contact.
Since the disease spreads by droplets (airborne infection) and by direct contact with infected birds or indirect contact via contaminated objects, poor hand hygiene aids its spread.
Wash your hands with soap and water after handling chicken and eggs.
2.Use appropriate personal protective equipment.
The use of face masks, hand gloves and boots is advisable for all those who work in poultry farms
3.Self monitoring for 7 (seven) days.
Self monitoring for 7 (seven) days after exposure to infected poultry or objects contaminated by avian influenza A virus-excretions/secretions.
4.Prophylactic antiviral medication.
Responders to outbreaks should take prophylactic antiviral medication during the outbreak control response.
A vaccine for humans against the H5N1 virus has been developed but not yet in universal use.
Chicken and all poultry products must be well cooked before consumption although spread is not through eating of chicken and its products.
Eggs must be thoroughly washed with soap and water to remove all dirt and feacal material before being cooked or stored.
Furthermore, remove fruits and vegetables from the vicinity where chicken is to be prepared for eating, plucking the feather can contaminate them.
Be aware of the disease, what causes it, how it spreads, the symptoms and signs. If you are a poultry farmer, know the signs of the disease in birds/chickens and report any suspected case to the appropriate authorities.