How Humans Contract Bird Flu

Published: 09th February 2006
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People all over the world have been going nuts for the very few people that the bird flu virus has killed. The media is one of the reasons why people have been going nuts for the very few deaths the bird flu has caused. However maybe the media is just serving as an early warning device to what could be a much worse situation.

The media maybe has gotten paranoid of the fear of previous influenza virus spread that has caused an epidemic way back. That's why they are helping us have more of an idea of what could be the latest big threat that could kill lots of people.

Thanks to the media we have more of an idea what causes the spread of bird flu influenza virus to humans. The main cause of bird flu comes form the migratory birds such as ducks. These migratory birds often don't get affected but they spread the virus to domesticated birds such as chickens, turkeys or geese which becomes affected. When the virus spreads to these domesticated birds, they die in large numbers often in just a day.

The bird flu virus was really not much of a worry for humans before. However because of certain people getting infected and dying in 1997 it has become a cause for concern. Since, cases of bird flu were reported throughout Asia, Canada and the Netherlands. Those people who were affected have made contact to infected birds or those areas where the infected birds made contact.

The main reason why bird flu is able to infect humans is because of its property of antigenic shift. Antigenic shift makes it possible for the virus subtype A to merge and create a new virus with a different species.

People who are often affected with the bird flu virus live or work closely with pigs or chickens. Pigs could be the cause of infection as well because they are a great place where both human and bird virus often merge.

In some cases the virus directly transfers to the humans. Here is how that happens.

1. The wild migratory birds shed their virus through their droppings, saliva or nasal secretions.

2. The domesticated birds catch this virus through sharing water, feed or soil that has become contaminated or through inhaling the airborne virus. The flu will then spread quickly from one bird to the other eventually leading to other flocks. The virus can be destroyed by heat but survives when it is in a cooler climate.

3. The virus could then be spread to humans due to the unsanitary open air markets where the eggs and birds are sold. Other reason a person may get infected is by touching an infected bird or its droppings.

If you are a person who works or lives with birds, it is best to remember to have a more hygienic lifestyle to prevent the bird flu virus killing you.

Michael Colucci is a technical writer for Bird Flu Facts - A site that offers articles and resources on the bird flu.

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