Avian Flu

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Avian flu (better known as bird flu) is a type of influenza that affects birds and in rare cases, can be passed on to humans.

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As with regular flu, there’s a variety of strains - most of which have no affect on humans. However, strains like H5N1 and H7N9 have become cause for concern in recent years, since a number of people have become infected and some have even died from the disease.

Although it’s rare to become infected by avian flu, cases have been on the rise over the past decade.

The infection can be spread by many types of birds and can affect poultry like chickens and turkeys, as well as pet birds. It’s common for infected birds to display no symptoms, so even those that seem healthy could pass on the disease.

If you’re worried about bird flu and are displaying any of the symptoms below, don’t delay - see a doctor online now.

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avian flu symptoms in man

Symptoms of bird flu

The symptoms of bird flu are similar to those of regular flu, and may include:

However, when they do cause problems, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose

In some cases, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain have been reported, as well as bleeding from the nose and gums.

Symptoms typically appear within a week after infection and can come on very quickly. If left untreated, complications like pneumonia and organ failure can occur and may result in death.

Discuss your symptoms with a doctor

Treating avian flu

Since avian flu is caused by a virus, antiviral medication is used to combat the condition. These work by interfering with the virus’ ability to reproduce.

In cases of regular flu, antivirals are given within two days of symptoms appearing, however, it’s not currently known if the same timeframes apply for bird flu.

Antiviral medication may also be offered as a precaution for those who may have been exposed to avian flu and a course typically lasts for a week or so.

Cases of bird flu are treated in isolation to prevent the spread of the disease and in addition to antivirals, getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated and taking over-the-counter pain medicine are also recommended to help relieve symptoms.

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If you think you may have been exposed to bird flu, or are worried about your symptoms - speak to one of our expert GPs online now.

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