Avian, or bird, flu threatens to become a global pandemic which will sweep the world – according to some experts. Others claim that there is relatively little risk, which an outbreak, if it does occur, will probably not happen before next winter at the first, and might not be as widespread or as intense as was initially believed.
If, like many others, you are confused and anxious about bird flu, here are some basic facts you will need to know.
- There are many kinds of bird flu, all possibly deadly to birds, but only one of which can be harmful to humans.
- At the present time, bird flu’s spread almost exclusively by contact with infected birds. At present it can not normally be passed from one individual to another.
- For the virus to mutate to a form which CAN be moved between humans, it ought to be captured by someone who’s infected with a normal human sort of influenza – and, according to the World Health Organization, the subsequent mixing of the flu strains has to be repeated seven times. That’s quite possible, of course, but it can be made less likely by careful management of cases of regular flu.
- If the virus does mutate (they often do), there are quite a few different ways it can develop which do not necessarily entail human-to-human contagion. It might even mutate in a way that makes it relatively benign, or even one that makes it impossible for people to catch.
- Governments worldwide are taking measures to cull infected birds and inoculate the healthful ones, and looking at other means to contain and overcome the issue, like a temporary ban on imports of live birds from regions that have been affected by bird flu.
- Scientists worldwide are working flat-out to recognize and mass-produce a vaccine, and to create ways of treating and preventing the disease. Many governments are organizing to purchase and stockpile gigantic amounts of the vaccine when it becomes available.
- Flu epidemics occur every winter, and they all cause deaths.
- All influenza viruses are potentially deadly, but nearly all are lived by far more people annually than die of these.
- The much-quoted 1918 outbreak caused numerous deaths partially because the countries it changed were exhausted and underfed following 4 decades of the most catastrophic war humanity had ever known, and several individuals simply did not have the strength to resist infection. That flu strain also came from birds, but many flu strains do, including many which have demonstrated much milder.
- The avian flu virus is a particularly severe one, and medical science has yet to create an entirely effective antidote — but it’s survivable, and at present relatively tough to catch. The actual threat will come if it will become able to spread easily between people.
Up to now, there have been far more deaths from SARS than bird flu. Among the biggest boosts which you can give your immune system comes from a healthy way of life, a vigorous, energetic attitude and a keen determination to fulfill the challenge, and surmount it.