Bulletin on Bird Flu (Avian Influenza)
Bill Gates announced that he would add an additional $250 million to the $4 billion he has already given to tackle the world’s most deadly diseases. What are these deadly diseases and how might they affect you?
One that is on the rise and has infections disease experts concerned and fearing a worldwide pandemic with potentially disastrous results is the “bird flu.” Unlike an epidemic—which is localized and affects a defined geographic area—pandemics are worldwide epidemics and as such, are far more serious and difficult to contain, especially in today’s modern age, with literally millions of individuals traveling internationally each year.
What is the Bird Flu?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “bird flu” is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. While wild birds usually do not get sick from them, it is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds—including chickens, ducks, and turkeys—very sick and kill them.
History of similar flu strains
The bird flu is related to the Spanish flu, which broke out as a worldwide pandemic in 1918. While estimates of the death toll and number of individuals stricken vary, most experts estimate that more than 20 million Americans became sick and of these, about 500,000 died—about ten times more than were killed in battle during World War I. Experts place the worldwide death toll from the Spanish flu at between 30 and 50 million. Many people died within the first few days after infection, and others died later of other complications. Nearly half of those who died were young, healthy adults—something that is a-typical for most common virus strains today, which tend to affect the most vulnerable among us—the young, the old, and the infirmed.
Potential to infect humans
Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997. As of July 5, 2005, there have been 116 confirmed human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia, resulting in 54 deaths, and at least two have died in the Netherlands. Most cases occurred among poultry workers and are believed to have been transmitted through human contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. However, there is at least one documented human-to-human transmission, and there may be others.
Risks to humans today
The potential risk of a pandemic breaking out today could be significant for the following reasons:
Potential for mutation. Influenza viruses are constantly changing, and while person-to-person transmission of the bird flu is rare, experts fear that strains will adapt over time to infect and spread among humans.
No vaccines. There is no vaccine and while efforts are underway, developing one will be difficult and take many years, since this modern strain has been so rare among humans.
No immunity. There is little preexisting natural immunity to infection in the human population.
Mortality (death) rate. While the Spanish flu had an estimated 5% mortality rate, the early outbreaks of the bird flu had an estimated 70% mortality rate. However, according to recent information from officials, mortality rates have declined to about 30%. This should be good news but it is not, because if that trend continues, it is more likely that greater longevity of infected humans will make them more difficult to identify early on. This lack of early detection could result in more people contracting the bird flu as it silently spreads—thus increasing the chances it will become a global pandemic.
Symptoms of bird flu
Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases and distress, and other serious and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of bird flu may depend on which strain of the virus caused the infection.
Medications for combating symptoms if you become infected
Several medications have been in common use for combating viral symptoms for a number of years, and while it is unknown just how effective they will be to help with bird flu, it seems appropriate to have something to do if it gets started in you or your family. As with all medications, be sure to read the package inserts for possible warnings regarding contraindications, drug interactions, and possible side effects prior to taking them.
Singular. This medication was developed years ago as an anti-cytokine agent for asthma, sinusitis, inflammatory lung disease or allergies. Cytokines are released when viruses enter cells to call for white blood cells and immunologic proteins to come to fight off the virus. Sometimes cytokines become present in excess and cause a “cytokine storm” that kills its victims within hours.
Tamiflu. This antiviral agent has been on the market for several years and has been singled out by the World Health Organization as the drug of choice against the bird flu, due to is proven effectiveness in treating those infected with H5N1, the strain most likely to be involved in the event of a worldwide outbreak. Tamiflu must be used as soon as possible (within1 – 3 days within the onset of symptoms) to be useful. All major governments are currently stockpiling it, to protect their employees in the case of a pandemic and allow them to continue to provide necessary services to their citizens.
Physicians and other prescribers should be aware that patients with severe influenza-like illness—especially those with chronic medical conditions or complicated manifestations of acute illness—might have significant bacterial infections instead of, or in addition to, viral illness and should be evaluated accordingly.
What to do if you decide to buy the prescriptions
We suggest the following as a reasonable approach, given all available information to date:
Don’t take the medications until the flu has spread to humans in your town.
Realize that Tamiflu may be on backorder at some pharmacies. In this case, put your name on the list at your local pharmacy and ask them to notify you when it comes in.
Store them both in the refrigerator or freezer. Doing so will make them last years after the expiration date. Be sure to remember where you put them, as you may not be able to remember if you are feeling sick. Also inform family members.
When the media alerts you to the presence of bird flu in your community consider beginning the regimen shown below:
Start taking Singulair once a day to ward off the first of the cytokine problems.
When you think you may have contracted the flu, increase the Singulair to twice a day and begin taking the Tamiflu twice a day.
Begin all the usual supportive measures you have found useful for the flu in the past, and be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking lots of liquid.
Call your physician to alert them and consider making an appointment for an evaluation to prevent unnecessary and potentially serious complications from secondary infections.
Experts believe that the bird flu pandemic will hit the human population and that it is only a matter of time. No one knows for sure, but most agree it will be in the next 50 years, and many expect that the outbreak will occur in next few months. An estimated 350 million or more people could die in the bird flu pandemic. For now, the medications noted above are not scheduled to go into increased production and thus severe shortages could result—with a large gap between those who need them and those who are able to get them.
If you would like to be prepared, get your prescriptions soon.
Other sources for information
About the bird flu and to obtain the latest CDC updates:
Archive for October, 2010
Avian bird flu, often referred to as Avian influenza, is an infectious disease found usually in birds which is caused by A strains of the influenza virus. This influenza virus occurs naturally in the intestines of wild birds and usually does not cause them sickness.
Avian influenza, or influenza A, is chiefly found in animals, but a virus infection of this type could occur in humans. Although cases of human infection have been on the rise since 1997, risk from this virus to humans is considered mild. In most cases, humans have caught this disease by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces like water bowls and cages, and with infected birds.
Cases of transmission of this virus from an infected human to another human have not been recorded officially. Some human influenza viruses are known to be subtypes of the avian bird flu influenza. Influenza A is continuously changing and it is possible that subtypes may adapt over time to infect and spread among humans.
Migratory waterfowl, most notably wild ducks, are the natural reservoir of avian influenza viruses, which is very contagious among them. When passed on to domestic birds like chicken, ducks and turkeys, the virus can make them very sick and even result in their death.
Infected birds transmit the influenza virus through their saliva, nasal secretion and feces. Domestic birds can contract the sickness when they come in contact with food containers, cage bars, water bowls, floors or with material such as feed and water that has become contaminated with this virus.
There is an extensive number of influenza viruses potentially circulating in bird populations, due to the fact that there are over a dozen subtypes of the influenza virus that infect birds. To date, all outbreaks of avian influenza have been caused by influenza A viruses of subtypes H5 and H7.
The sickness caused by this virus often take two stages. The first is a mild stage which often goes undetected. Symptoms for this stage are ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production. The second stage is where the internal organs of infected birds stop functioning and ultimately results in the death of the bird within 48 hours.
Humans who become infected with influenza A show symptoms similar to human influenza virus, and they may suffer from fever, muscle aches, sore throat, cough and eye infections.
In severe cases, they may have pneumonia and other life-threatening diseases. Death is a possible outcome of the infection.
What can we do to try to prevent a world-wide pandemic? While the efficacy of vaccines is no sure protection, many are trying to get their hands on these, since there is a chance that vaccines might help. The Australian government, not unlike many other governments, have stockpiled vaccines such as Tamiflu to prepare themselves for a possible outbreak of avian influenza, even though the exact virus that causes influenza A in humans has not yet been identified.
Another point to remember is that these viruses often become resistant to vaccines so by the time they are used, the particular influenza strain might not react to the present vaccines.
So I would say that your best bet would be to get a huge immune system boost. Glyconutrients will give you a maximum potential on your immune system, as well as many other health benefits. I have decided to help my family get a good supply of these everyday and have researched the most potent, active, and cost effective form of it.
Medicine Net explained that:
Avian influenza cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone, so a laboratory test is required. Avian influenza is usually diagnosed by collecting a swab from the nose or throat during the first few days of illness. This swab is then sent to a laboratory, where they will either look for avian influenza virus using a molecular test, or they will try to grow the virus. Growing avian influenza viruses should only be done in laboratories with high levels of protection. If it is late in the illness, it may be difficult to find an avian influenza virus directly using these methods. If this is the case, it may still be possible to diagnose avian influenza by looking for evidence of the body’s response to the virus. This is not always an option because it requires two blood specimens (one taken during the first few days of illness and another taken some weeks later), and it can take several weeks to verify the results.
Bird flu is creating a wide spread pandemic in the South East Asian countries. More so, the possibility of it being spread to other parts of the world cannot be neglected. The virus responsible for more than hundreds of deaths has been detected as the H5N1 virus, a subtype of Influenza-A virus. This has been the most deadly bird flu virus till date, since the bird flu generally doesn’t attack human beings.
The reports of the symptoms of the avian flu have been submitted to WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Center Disease Control). They are similar to SARS but not completely similar. And the interesting fact is that the symptoms sometimes vary from person to person and its totally different in birds. The onset of the virus attack is mostly ignored. So You need to be extra cautious with it. For it never alarms before an outbreak. It’s possible to reach any corner of the world since the migratory birds are main carriers of the pathogen.
Before the virus infests the humans, there is the possibility of it raging the poultry. If you observe any of the following symptoms among the poultry folks, there might be the possibility of the H5N1 virus being in action.
If the attack of the virus is less pathogenic then there will be no visible signs and the attack is not fatal enough. The high pathogenic attack has clear symptoms and is quite destructive:
1. Depression in some of the birds.
2. Cessation in laying eggs.
3. Loss of appetite and nervousness.
4. The combs and wattles turn blue in color due to altercation of blood circulation.
5. Coughing and frequent nasal discharge and diarrhea.
6. Sudden death of a number of them without any signs may also be the symptom of bird flu.
The reports based on the observations of the human beings attacked by bird flu have established that the human symptoms are somewhat similar to normal human flu but the impact is more rigorous. The symptoms of bird flu reported in humans are:
1) Sudden attack of suspicious coughing. Generally, we can trace why we catch a cold and cough when the reasons are like exposure to too much cold or taking lot of ice cream and alike. But, here it won’t have such particular reason.
2) Mild fever prolonging for hours.
3) Having soreness of throat.
4) Gradual shift to pneumonia.
5) Feeling moderate or severe malaise and fatigue.
6) Muscle pain.
7) Sometimes, conjunctivitis may also occur.
8) Respiratory problems like difficulty in breathing.
9) Very frequent sneezing with lot of mucous coming out.
If you find some of these symptoms in you, don’t waste time and visit a doctor, the sooner you start with the treatment, the faster you relieve! Don’t break down if you have positive results. It’s easy to treat. Thats why, be extra cautious of these symptoms.
Confronting the possibility of a potentially devastating human bird flu pandemic, the United Nations system – from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to the UN health and agricultural agencies – today laid out a blueprint for immediate preventive and mitigating action.
“We may not know about the future course of H5N1, we do know this: once human-to-human transmission has been established, we would have only a matter of weeks to lock down the spread before it spins out of control. That is why the international community must take action now.” Mr. Annan told the Time Global Health Summit, a three-day event in New York held to discuss key health issues.
In light of these concerns, and likely rationing of available flu vaccines, it is advisable that people also look at other areas which complement good health. In the United States, the average American diet is high in sodium, fat, sugar, and preservatives and low in nutrition. These are typically not the ingredients associated with the support of a healthy immune system. It is the beneficial components of food which feed the cells of the body and support the normal function which allows each cell the potential to restore, protect and defend itself from the effects of injury and disease. A poorly nourished body is less able to carry out these activities as the basic building blocks for cell function are in limited supply.
People should therefore seek to improve their dietary intake of beneficial sources of nutrition and limit their intake of the more commonly eaten foods which are known to be more harmful to the body than their unprocessed counterparts. Will the support of a healthy immune system ensure a perfect defense against invading flu virus particles? Certainly not. However, a healthy immune system may mean the difference between someone who contracts the flu and recovers quickly and someone who suffers greatly.
The most important factor in the improvement of any person’s diet is to improve the quality and variety of food eaten. While dietary supplements may provide some excellent health benefits they are intended to supplement, not substitute, the benefits of a good diet.