Macaws and Bird Flu

medium_2689857765Whenever we think of pirates, a number of us will think of parrots too, and when we think of parrots, most of us will think of those parrots with long tail feathers, large beaks, and brightly-colored feathers in all the primary colors. Chances are you’re probably thinking of a macaw.

Macaws are grand, beautiful birds, and are mostly endemic to South America and the Carribean areas. These creatures have personalities as unique as the prints on their faces, and it may take some time before it will recognize you as its owner. However, with time, patience, and a little bit of kindness, these beautiful beasts may come to trust you implicitly.

However, are macaws as susceptible to bird flu as chickens? General veterinarian consensus says nay, but it is still best to be careful when shopping around for a pet macaw. If you notice your buyer has also been raising chickens, it is more than reasonable to take caution. Ask for some history of the bird, where it came from, how old is it, and so on. Do not hesitate to ask for a medical write-up; if the seller refuses to give you one, walk away. Once you do receive what you have required of your seller, it is best to next ask him or her which avian veterinarian he or she recommends.

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Avian Flu in an Airport: A Potential Disaster

It’s official – airports are one of the dirtiest places to be in. Even the JFK airport has been singled out to be the Number One dirtiest airport on the planet. It might be a prudent thing to start being more mindful of where you place your food, where you take a loo break, or even where you sneeze.

Airports aren’t just a cradle of filth – think about all the germs and contagious diseases that could be lurking on every bench seat, pen, or corner! As if that wasn’t enough, think of all the different passengers hustling and bustling on tarmac and lobby. Chances are, you might be rubbing shoulder with someone who might be having the chills. Is that person breaking out into sweat? Coughing violently? Turning a nasty shade of red, or breaking out into hives? Are you breaking out your alcohol or hand-sanitizers yet?

Crowded rooms, weak immune systems, and bad sneezing manners – this is how bird flu spreads. What are you going to do, stay at home, and never use the airport? Of course not! The best way to manage this dicey situation is to keep healthy, practice thorough hand-washing, and keep a hanky on your person at all times.

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H5N1 Combined with H1N1 New Pandemic?

h1n1swinefluThe scare brought about by the new and rising threat from the new and improved H1N1 Swine Flu Virus has scientists clamoring for an immediate cure with the H5N1 still fresh on their minds. The H1N1 strain is still part of the flu family but with a very dangerous twist, it is a combination of the H1N1(swine), H5N1(Avian) and the Human Flu virus that like the other strains is transmittable and can be transmitted from species to species. From animal species it jumps easily to humans and that cross-species jumping trait is a very dangerous combination.

How is avian influenza detected in humans?

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.

In the News: No Agreement Reached on Bird Flu Virus Sharing – WHO


The recently concluded Intergovernmental Meeting on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (IGM-PIP), which tackled the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines, came to a deadlock-end.

Health officials failed to reach agreement on a new system to ensure developing countries benefit more from sharing bird flu virus samples used to develop vaccines, the World Health Organization said.

Sharing virus samples among countries is important in virus strain surveillance, as well as in vaccine development. These issues were discussed during the 3-day meeting held from November 20-23, 2007 at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We must have equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of viruses through a fair, transparent and equitable mechanism. It is the moral thing to do,” Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari of Indonesia said. Indonesia has the highest death toll – 91 people – from bird flu.

Indonesia proposed that commercial use of a virus sample would require consent from the country providing it, and that the country should be given affordable access to vaccine stockpiles.

However, John Lange, U.S. special representative for avian and pandemic influenza, said that research and development of vaccines was “very risky, time-consuming and extremely expensive” and it was critical to protect patents to ensure their continued development.

News from Reuters
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Simple and Cheap Measures Help Fight H5N1

As doctors have been saying all along, bird flu much like any other viral pathogens can easily be dealt with through simple and proper hygiene such as hand washing even with the most ordinary of soaps. Studies and general observation has shown that simple washing of your hands quickly and effectively removes the virus as with the many other types of flu that can be transmitted easy through physical contact with infected people.
Swine flu has all but overtaken the bird-flu epidemic that still lurks in the background taking it’s toll against the other forms of flu and this time being the prime time for spread it is necessary to emphasize the importance of such simple yet effective tasks.

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