1997 brought a new worry to the world wide health community. A previously harmless virus to humans had somehow jumped the species line and had actually begun to infect individuals. The bird flu stopped being a worry reserved solely for bird farmers and became a troublesome issue with people everywhere. Avian influenza has been around for many, many years. Wild birds naturally carry the disease but when it is exposed to domesticated species of birds it can have a mortality rate of 90-100% in just 48 hours. This is bad enough for poultry and bird farmers but to know that humans can now get the virus is a whole new worry.
Here is how the bird flu works. It is naturally found in the intestines of wild birds where it does no harm to the bird. But sometimes when wild birds leave behind stool, urine, saliva or other fluids in the proximity of domesticated birds, the disease can become activated. With the low pathogenic strain of avian influenza the domesticated bird may suffer from decreased egg production or ruffled feathers. But with the high pathogenic version the bird is almost guaranteed to die.
The problem with containing and eradicating the virus is that a wild bird comes into contact with a wide expanse of area. It increases the range in which researchers have to work to clear the virus. The Center for Disease Control’s website has a very detailed section regarding this growing problem. With more humans coming down with avian influenza, it worries the rest of the world. The virus spreads very quickly and if it should become a common human contagion, the world could be looking at serious repercussions. Luckily, most cases of avian influenza in humans has resulted from coming into direct contact with a contaminated bird. And even then the odds are quite low of becoming infected. As of yet there have not been any confirmed cases of the virus being passed from one human to the next.
The best tool you can have to combat this disease in both yourself and your birds is information. You can find tons of misinformation about the bird flu from unreliable sources but if you want the straight facts about avian influenza, then you need to go to the Center for Disease Control’s website at www.cdc.gov. The website has all the information that you need to be informed.