India Reports First Bird Flu Death: All You Should Know About It

Avian flu is often called bird flu that causes severe respiratory disease in birds.

Health News
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The boy is believed to be the first case of H5N1 virus, also known as the 'avian influenza' or 'bird flu'.</p></div>

India reported its first death due to bird flu, as an 11-year-old boy from Haryana succumbed to the virus on Tuesday, 20 July, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi.

The boy is believed to be the first case of H5N1 virus, also known as the 'avian influenza' or 'bird flu', among humans in India.

According to news agency ANI , the child was battling leukemia and pneumonia. He was admitted to AIIMS, Delhi on 2 July.

NDTV quoted news agency PTI as saying that the child's Covid sample was negative and was found to be positive for influenza. H5N1 was confirmed by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.

AIIMS officials said that all the staff who came in contact with the child have been instructed to be alert about flu symptoms.

A team from the National Center for Disease Control has been sent to the child's village, to detect more cases of bird flu.


What is bird flu or avian flu?

Avian influenza is a viral disease that is contagious. Avian flu is often called bird flu. This causes severe respiratory disease in birds.

There are many types of bird flu, but H5N1 was the first bird flu virus found to infect humans. H5N1 and H7N9 are the most common strains of the virus.

What is H5N1?

H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly contagious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza or bird flu.

Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but transmission is difficult from person to person. Although the death rate due to infection has been recorded at about 60 percent.

How does H5N1 infection spread among people?

Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected birds (live or dead), or H5N1-contaminated environments.

The virus does not easily infect humans, and has been found to be uncommon from person to person. There is no evidence that properly prepared and well-cooked food can spread the disease to people.

Why is there so much concern about H5N1 influenza?

H5N1 infection in humans can cause severe disease and has been found to have a high mortality rate.

At the same time, influenza viruses undergo frequent genetic changes.

If the H5N1 virus continues to transmit easily from person to person while retaining its ability to cause serious disease, the consequences for public health can be very serious.


What are the symptoms of H5N1 avian influenza in humans?

  • Fever (often high fever, >38 degrees Celsius)

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Muscle pain

  • Stomach pain

  • Chest pain

  • Diarrhea

Infection can rapidly lead to severe respiratory illness like difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and neurological changes like altered mental status or seizures.

How is H5N1 avian influenza in humans treated?

In cases of infection in humans, avian influenza can develop into a serious illness, which should be treated promptly in hospitals and may require intensive care where available.

The antiviral drug oseltamivir can reduce the severity of the disease and may be helpful in preventing death.

Is there a vaccine to prevent H5N1 avian influenza in humans?

Candidate vaccines have been developed to prevent H5N1 infection, but are not ready for widespread use.

Does seasonal influenza (seasonal flu) vaccination protect against the H5N1 virus?

Seasonal influenza vaccination has not been found to prevent H5N1 infection.

Is it safe to eat chicken, poultry products?

Yes, it is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked poultry. The virus is sensitive to heat. The virus cannot survive in the normal temperature (70 degrees Celsius) used for cooking.

As a standard precaution, World Health Organisation recommends that poultry, poultry products should always be prepared following cleanliness, and poultry meat should be properly cooked.

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