Bird Flu Symptoms
What are Bird Flu Symptoms?
Symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from typical human
influenza-like symptoms, as noted below, to pneumonia, severe respiratory
diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and
life-threatening complications. The symptoms of avian influenza may depend on
which virus caused the infection.
Bird Flu Symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Conjunctivitis (eye infections)
- Breathing problems
- Chest pains
- Acute respiratory distress
Unlike normal seasonal influenza, where infection causes only
mild respiratory symptoms in most people, the disease caused by H5N1 follows an
unusually aggressive clinical course, with rapid deterioration and high
fatality. Primary viral pneumonia and multi-organ failure are common. In the
present outbreak, more than half of those infected with the virus have died.
Most cases have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults.
How is avian influenza detected in humans?
A laboratory test is
needed to confirm avian influenza in humans. Avian influenza cannot be diagnosed
by bird flu 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
How is avian influenza in humans treated?
Studies done in laboratories suggest that the
prescription medicines approved for human influenza viruses should work in
treating avian influenza infection in humans. However, influenza viruses can
become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work.
Current drugs to
treat bird flu:
influenza antiviral drugs (oseltamivir, zanamivir, amantadine and rimantadine)
are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment
and prevention of influenza. All four have activity against influenza A viruses.
However, sometimes influenza strains can become resistant to these drugs, and
therefore the drugs may not always be effective.
Current recommendations for treatment of patients with
confirmed or strongly suspected human infection with the H5N1 virus from the WHO
(World Health Organization) include administering oseltamivir treatment (strong
recommendation); zanamivir might be used as an alternative (weak
recommendation). Clinicians are advised not to administer amantadine or
rimantadine alone as a first-line treatment.
Additional studies are needed to determine the effectiveness
of these medicines. Monitoring of avian influenza A viruses for resistance to
influenza antiviral medications is ongoing.
Does seasonal influenza vaccine protect against
avian influenza infection in people?
No. The "flu shot" (seasonal influenza vaccine)
you get in the fall before flu-season does not provide protection against avian
Research studies to test a vaccine to protect humans against
H5N1 virus began in April 2005
WHO Global Influenza Programme has developed a new recombinant H5N1 vaccine
virus. Research is ongoing.
More than a dozen drug companies worldwide are using H5N1 as
the basis for vaccines that would protect people from a pandemic caused by the
For more information in addition to bird flu symptoms go to
the links below.
Go to What
is the Bird Flu FAQs
- Transmission by Birds
Current Bird Flu
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