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A Short but Serious Look at the Possibility of Bird Flu Pandemic

The latest cause for concern is the H5N1 strain of the avian flu. Before 1997, it was never before encountered by humans. And while only several hundred have been infected worldwide, about 60 % of them have died from this new strain of avian flu. The reason why is has not been more problematic is that it is not easily spread from one human to another.

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Influenza has perhaps been one of the world's most prolific killers in the past. In fact, there have been three pandemics in the past century that killed millions of people. What most people don't realize is that various strains of avian flu have been behind all of the pandemics. The last pandemic was in 1968 and the World Health Organization is worried that the recent outbreaks of a new strain of avian flu could trigger another pandemic.

Pandemics are caused when a virus never before encountered by a human's immune system surfaces to cause infection. This infection causes ruthless sickness and even death while spreading easily from one human host to another.

The latest cause for concern is the H5N1 strain of the avian flu. Before 1997, it was never before encountered by humans. And while only several hundred have been infected worldwide, about 60 % of them have died from this new strain of avian flu.  The reason why is has not been more problematic is that it is not easily spread from one human to another.

How the H5N1 Bird Flu is Contracted

People who handle birds directly are at the most risk of contracting this latest avian flu strain. Bird feces can shelter the avian flu virus for days and therefore pose a great risk. Feces can dry and contaminate the feet, feathers and other parts of the bird. Inhaling the dust or debris from feces is one way to contract the flu as well as coming in contact with a flu contaminant and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth area.

Poultry farmers and butchers who deal with the killing and cleaning of dead birds can also contract the virus. Feathers can easily harbor the avian flu virus so when workers pluck the birds they could be inhaling the germs or again, touching the face at vulnerable areas. Plucking the feathers can make the avian flu contaminants go airborne.

Infection Control

RSV can be prevented through proper hand washing hygiene. Soap and water is best as long as you spend at least a minute lathering up and washing between fingers as well as beneath fingernails. In addition, proper disposal of tissues used to wipe and blow noses is essential. Another way to decrease the chance of RSV happening to you or your baby includes disinfecting children's toys as well as common surfaces that everyone has the potential to touch. Hand Hygiene

Because the virus can live for several days outside the human host, this can cause even more ways to contract this bird flu. Excrement from birds could easily contaminate water sources. In addition, there is the possibility of getting the virus via the consumption of raw or improperly cooked poultry. However, there has been no real evidence thus far of this happening.

Luckily this H5N1 avian flu is very hard to contract. Mostly it is just birds that are affected but a small portion of people who work in close direct contact with birds can also get the flu. However, due to the number of poultry farms and wild birds and the low incidence of human flu victims, it is rather safe to say that the chances are not likely.

The regular influenza vaccine can help in fighting the avian flu should you actually beat the overwhelming odds and contract it. While it won't prevent it 100%, the shot will give you the immunological tools to fight it. The shots help prevent both type A and type B flu strains and the avian flu is part of the type A family.

Washing your hands, particularly after handling any type of bird is a wise move. Also cooking your poultry products properly should be another preventative measure. Other than smart hygiene practices, there is not much else you can do to protect yourself from the latest bird flu strain.

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