Communicable Diseases

Bird Flu


  • Bird flu is a viral infection that can infect birds and spread among them. :
  • Bird flu is caused by H5N1 virus, which also affects humans. 
  • Bird flu cannot be transmitted to humans from fully-cooked chicken or eggs. 
  • The symptoms of the bird flu are similar to those of the seasonal flu and pink eye.
  • One of the most important prevention methods of bird flu is avoiding coming in contact with bird droppings.

What is bird flu?
It is a virus that infects various types of poultry and migratory birds and spreads among them (especially chickens, ducks, and others). There are many different strains of the bird flu virus, and even though most of them do not infect humans and are not usually transmitted from one person to another, two strains of the virus have recently caused great concerns. Many people from all over the world were infected with the virus, which has led to several fatalities.

Other names: Avian flu

Getting infected with influenza A viruses, to which many dangerous types belong, such as: H5N1 which infects humans, and H5N8 which cannot be transmitted from birds to humans. 

People catch bird flu through direct contact with infected birds, whether alive or dead. They can also catch the disease if they touch bird droppings, eye discharge, or respiratory secretions.
Bird flu cannot be transmitted to humans from fully-cooked chicken or eggs. 

Risk Factors:
  • Contact with poultry and bird farms; 
  • Traveling to disease-stricken areas;
  • Close contact with infected birds or surfaces contaminated with their feathers, saliva or feces. 

Who is at risk?
  • Healthcare workers
  • Poultry farmers

Bird flu symptoms usually appear within 2 to 7 days after exposure, depending on the type. These symptoms are a lot similar to seasonal flu symptoms, which include:
  • Fever
  • Sore throat 
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pink eye

When to see a doctor?
  • When the severity of the fever and cough increases;
  • When traveling to countries where the disease is prevalent;
  • After visiting bird farms and markets.

  • Pneumonia 
  • Respiratory failure 
  • Impaired kidney function 
  • Heart problems. 

  • Clinical examination
  • Laboratory tests Blood and throat or nose swab tests
  • Other tests, including: X-ray imaging

Patients are treated with antivirals. These medications must be taken within two days after the onset of symptoms.

  • No vaccine has been revealed to prevent bird flu; however, there are instructions to follow when visiting areas where an outbreak has been reported. These instructions include:
  • Avoiding visiting farms or open-air bird and poultry markets. 
  • ​Avoiding touching surfaces contaminated with bird droppings.
  • Avoiding holding or touching birds (dead or alive).
  • Avoiding eating undercooked poultry or eggs.
  • Washing hands regularly with water and soap.

Guidelines for people with bird flu:
  • Get enough rest at home.
  • Avoid coming in contact with others in public places. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids and follow a healthy diet.
  • Take the medications prescribed by your doctor.

  • Can bird flu be transmitted from a person to another? 
    • Answer: Some individuals have been reported to catch the disease; however, the number of such cases is very low. It is important to closely monitor the virus and isolate patients during their treatment to prevent transmission.

Myths & Truths
  • Myth: Bird flu can be transmitted from poultry meat even if it was cooked. 
    • Truth: Cooking poultry meat at a high temperature (above 70 °C) can kill the virus.
  • Myth: Cooling and freezing poultry meat can kill the virus.
    • Truth: Cooling or freezing poultry meat does not kill the virus.

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 17 August 2020 03:04 AM
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