Bird Flu in India: Here’s How You Can Avoid Getting Sick

Here’s all you need to know about the H5N1 infection and how you can prevent it.

Updated
Health News
2 min read
A health worker is seen giving ‘medicine’ to the chickens at a poultry farm. Photo used for representational purpose. 
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India has reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus near Bengaluru in the southern state of Karnataka, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday, 15 January, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.

The H5N8 virus was detected on Dec. 26 among birds in the village of Dasarahalli, killing 9 out of 951 birds. The others were culled, the Paris-based OIE said in a report posted on its website. No details were given on the type of birds involved.

This news comes as a shocker since India was declared free from the Avian Influenza (H5N8 and H5N1) in September 2016 by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

The last reported case of bird flu in Bengaluru was in October 2012.

Here’s all you need to know about the H5N1 infection and how you can prevent it.

What is Bird Flu?

H5N1, which is the most common form of bird flu, is mostly deadly to birds.
H5N1, which is the most common form of bird flu, is mostly deadly to birds.
(Photo: CDDEP)

H5N1, which is the most common form of bird flu, is mostly deadly to birds. But it can also affect humans and other animals that come in contact with a virus carrier.

While most forms of this virus are currently restricted to birds, it isn’t yet clear whether the same can spread to humans via direct contact.

The H5N1 virus can survive for long periods of time. The infected birds might continue to spread the virus in their feces and saliva for as long as 10 days. 

Touching such surfaces might spread the infection among humans.

Symptoms

The symptoms of an H5N1 infection are very similar to the common flu:

  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fever (over 38°C)
  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Runny nose and sore throat

Treatment

Wash your hands regularly to minimise the risk of contracting the virus.
Wash your hands regularly to minimise the risk of contracting the virus.
(Photo: iStock)

The treatment for bird flu might vary depending on the type of infection.

So, it is important to consult a doctor immediately if any of the above symptoms persist for a longer period of time.

Usually, doctors treat bird flu patients with antiviral medicine, which can help reduce the severity of the symptoms. It is recommended that the medication is taken within 48 hours of the infection.

Patients might be kept in isolation to avoid spreading the virus among their family members.

It is best to avoid contact with infected birds, stay away from poultry farms and markets and practice good hygiene at all times, to minimise the risk of contracting the virus.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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