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Bird flu (Avian flu) - Risk factors, Complication, Diagnosis


Prognosis
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Risk factors|
The greatest risk factor for bird flu seems to be contact with sick birds or with surfaces contaminated by their feathers, saliva or droppings.
Risk factors include caring for sick birds, killing sick birds, and preparing sick birds for consumption. Despite the large number of people who have contact with poultry every day in the world, human cases of bird flu remain rare. This highlights how difficult it is for the bird flu virus to infect human cells, but mutations like antigenic shifts may reduce such difficulties. The H1N1 pandemic that started in Mexico is an example of such a mutation (swine flu to human flu).
Although direct contact with sick poultry poses the highest risk for bird flu, indirect exposure to bird feces or other materials such as bird eggs is also a risk. Contact with unwashed eggs from sick birds or water contaminated by poultry feces poses a potential risk of disease.
Bird flu is very contagious among many bird species. In general, bird flu is not very contagious to humans, even to poultry workers. However, human-to-human spread has occurred in isolated cases. In human outbreaks, the first individual to become infected usually has had contact with infected birds or poultry and then caregivers become infected. Thus, caring for a person infected with bird flu is also a risk factor for the disease. There is a theoretical risk in laboratory workers who handle the avian flu virus.
Complications|
People with bird flu may develop life-threatening complications. The complications of bird flu are frequently dire and include:


  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,
  • Pneumonia,
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS),
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Lung collapse,
  • Shock,
  • Altered mental status,
  • Seizures,
  • Organ system failure, and
  • Death.
Although bird flu may kill more than half the people it infects, the number of fatalities is still low because so few people have had bird flu. Fewer than 500 bird flu deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization since 1997.
Diagnosis|
Routine tests for human influenza A will be positive in patients with bird flu but are not specific for the avian virus. If bird flu is suspected, the following tests will be carried out to establish whether you have the infection:

Laboratory tests
Samples of fluids from your nose or throat can be tested for evidence of bird flu virus. These samples must be taken within the first few days after symptoms appear. The virus can be detected in sputum by several methods, including culture or polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Cultures should be done in laboratories that have an appropriate biosafety certification. PCR detects nucleic acid from the influenza A virus. Specialized PCR testing is available in reference laboratories to identify avian strains; the CDC is a primary source for available tests for the newest strains of bird flu and can identify the specific type of virus (for example, H5N1 or H7N9).

Imaging tests

X-rays may be useful in assessing the condition of your lungs, which can help determine the proper diagnosis and the best treatment options for your signs and symptoms.

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