See your doctor immediately if you develop flu symptoms, including a fever, cough and body aches, where bird flu occurs. Be sure to let your doctor know when and where you were traveling and whether you visited any farms or open-air markets.
Doctors have rapid tests to identify the flu virus, but the tests can’t distinguish between avian flu and other influenza a virus. For that reason specimen’s from anyone with a suspected case of bide flu would be sent to state health labs or the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) from analysis.
Most people with bird flu have signs and symptoms of conventional influenza. Some also develop life-threatening complications such as viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, which causes the air sacs in your lungs to fill with fluid rather than with air, leading to severe breathing difficulties.
But the greatest complication of bird flu in still hypothetical-the emergence is a new viral strain that spreads easily from person to person. If a person were simultaneously infected with human and bird flu viruses, the re-assortment of genetic material could produce an entirely new subtype with a preponderance of human genes. This could make the virus highly contagious and, with no natural immunity among the world population, especially lethal.
So for this hasn’t happened a few cases of person-to-person transmission have occurred, officials fear it’s Just a matter of time before avian viruses figure out a way to spread easily among people.
In August 2005, the U.S. government said it would purchase millions of doses of a prototype bird flu vaccine from a French vaccine maker. The announcement came after the government said tests showed that the vaccine promoted an immune system response in healthy adults. The vaccine still needs to be tested over several months in adults older than 65 and in children. The vaccine at least 6 to 12 mouths to produce useful amounts.
Right now, the primary treatment option is the flu drug oseltamivir (Tami flu), a neuraminidase inhibitor that works by preventing the virus from escaping its host cell. Its not clear how effective Tami flu will ultimately prove against (A) H5N1. In southeast Asia, resistance to its seems to be developing quickly. Another antiviral flu drug, Relenza, may be an alternative.
But both drugs must be taken within two days after the appearance of symptoms, something that may prove logistically difficult on a world wide scale, even if there were enough to go around. Because they are in short supply, it is not entirely clear how flu drugs would be allocated if there were a wide spread epidemic.
The international effort to prevent the spread of bird flu is multifaceted, focusing on the health of both birds and humans. Measures to help to control the virus among the domestic poultry include:
Culling. Since 1997, when the first human cases of bird flu appeared, hundreds of millions of sick or exposed birds primarily chickens have been destroyed. In many cases, affected farms were also quarantined. Although some have questioned the wisdom of such wholesale slaughter as well as the methods used to cull birds may re-burned or buried alive- the WHO considers this approach the first line defense against avian viruses.
Surveillance programs. Some nations have instituted strict vaccination and surveillance programs for poultry farms and markets, taken steps to prevent bird smuggling, and put in place programs that quarantine new birds until they are proved healthy and that require poultry farmers to disinfect boots and tires.
Banned birds. Many countries have banned or restricted the importation of birds and hatching eggs from regions with bird flu epidemics. In February 2004, the CDC banned the importation of poultry into the United States from most of the Asian nations.