• I decline to go fox hunting (nor did she want her sons William and Harry to be involved in hunting) - Diana, Princess of Wales

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Bird Flu Print E-mail

Avian Influenza, more commonly known as bird flu, is an infectious disease that affects birds predominantly but not exclusively. Common bird flu goes largely unnoticed with birds showing only slight symptoms. There are less common strains that can be transmitted to mammals and humans too.

These uncommon strains of bird flu are passed on from the infected bird to the host. These strains have a very high mortality rate, most birds die within 48 hours and the mortality rate in humans has also been alarmingly high. Although, once a human has been infected with the virus the chances of transmitting the virus to another person is very low. There is no vaccine for the bird flu virus as yet. But in all likelihood, by the time there is one the virus would have mutated again.   

What has got the World Health Organisation on red alert though is the possibility of the severe bird flu mutating with the human flu virus. If this had to happen infected persons would be able to transmit the virus to other people. Another worrying factor is that bird flu has a relatively long incubation period, meaning that an infected person could be infecting other people without even knowing it.

New flu strains tend to emerge in Asia, Africa and the East, where people live in close quarters with their animals, and different flu viruses may mix to cause new strains or pass between species. The greatest risk factor for bird flu seems to be contact with sick birds or with surfaces contaminated by their feathers, saliva or droppings. At this point, too few people have been infected to know all the possible risk factors for bird flu.

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