Bird flu has been reported in different parts of India, including Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Kerala. Reports say that around 1 lakh birds have died mysteriously in Haryana, whereas in Himachal Pradesh around 1,800 migratory birds were found dead, which has alerted the authorities and they have ordered to cull thousands of birds.Also Read - OMICRON Covid Variant: How Infectious Is Omicron Variant? Everything You Need To Know, Explained | Watch Video

There has been a lot of confusion about what exactly is Bird Flu aka Avian flu. Here, we have all frequently asked questions answered. Read on! Also Read - Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms And Why You Should Not Ignore The Signs

What is Avian Flu or bird flu? Also Read - 6 Important Habits That Can Keep TB at Bay During COVID-19 Times

It is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza or bird flu. Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person. When people do become infected, the mortality rate is about 60%.

How does it spread? 

Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments. The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food.

What are the symptoms of bird flu?

The symptoms may include fever (often high fever, > 38°C) and malaise, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Other early symptoms may include abdominal pain, chest pain, and diarrhea. The infection may progress quickly to severe respiratory illness (for example, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pneumonia, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and neurologic changes (altered mental status or seizures).

Can we eat chicken, poultry products, and other wild game birds’ meat? Is it safe? 

Yes, it is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked poultry and game birds. The virus is sensitive to heat. Normal temperatures used for cooking (so that food reaches 70°C in all parts) will kill the virus. As a standard precaution, WHO recommends that poultry, poultry products, and wild game birds should always be prepared following good hygienic practices and that poultry meat should be properly cooked.

To date, a large number of human infections with the H5N1 virus have been linked to the home slaughter and subsequent handling of diseased or dead birds prior to cooking. These practices represent the highest risk of human infection and are the most important to avoid.

How is bird flu treated?

In most cases, avian influenza in humans develops into a serious disease that should be treated promptly in the hospital and may require intensive care, where available. The antiviral medicine oseltamivir can reduce the severity of illness and prevent death, and should be used in all cases.

Is there a vaccine available to protect us from Bird flu?

Candidate vaccines to prevent H5N1 infection have been developed, but they are not ready for widespread use.

Source: WHO