Flu Pandemic

Bird Flu

Avian influenza or bird flu as it is commonly known, is among the biggest threats to the world today as far as pandemics are concerned. It is caused by influenza viruses that have adapted themselves to birds.
Till date, the virus has been responsible for the death of millions of birds all over the world. Indeed, since the first appearance of the virus in south-east Asia, many countries have reported the outbreak of a bird flu epidemic among the birds.
The virus first affected humans in the year 1996, when 18 case of bird flu was reported in Hong Kong. It resulted in the death of 6 individuals from among them. Next the disease spread to other countries like China and Vietnam. The subsequent years have seen a rise in the number of victims of this disease. Also, the disease spread to a number of other countries during this period. By the year 2007, 270 cases of the disease had been confirmed. Also, 164 deaths had been attributed to the disease.

H5N1 Virus

A variety of viruses are responsible for the 14 different types of avian flu. However, presently, the most prominent one among them is the HPAI A(H5N1) or simply the H5N1 virus. These influenza viruses have specifically adapted themselves to infect birds. However, this does not mean that the H5N1 virus is incapable of infecting other species. In many cases, these viruses can show multiple adaptations i.e. they can adapt themselves to a number of animals.

In general, the H5N1 virus has the following properties:

Bird flu Symptoms

Bird flu causes pneumonia and other breathing problems in birds and thus, proves to be fatal. In humans, the bird flu symptoms are as follows:

These symptoms usually come over rapidly in a person and may lead to pneumonia or failure of other organs within a short period of time.

Measures to Prevent Bird Flu

Many agencies, all over the world are collaborating to come up with a solution to curb the spread of bird flu. The major problem they face is the fast mutating nature of H5N1. This makes it impossible to come up with a vaccine for it, as the particular strain is unknown until the time, it affects some individual. The vaccines that have been developed for pre-existing strains have not proved to be very effective.

Some of the steps taken by the various countries to curb the spread of the disease are as follows:

With adequate measures, we can surely curb a bird flu pandemic.