Prior to 1997 scientists thought that bird flu used to affect just birds. However, once the flu jumped from the birds to humans when people got infected in Hong Kong, scientists realized that the flu could also infect and wreak havoc among humans.
When bird flu broke out in the year 1997 in Hong Kong, most of the people who got infected were the poor who lived in rural areas and tended to their own poultry. When a bird is infected with the bird flu virus, it excretes it out along with the feces. The feces then get dry and when people walk on them, they get crushed. This allows microscopic particles of the feces to fly around in the air. These particles, which are tainted with the virus, when inhaled lead to bird flu among humans.
Bird flu is extremely contagious, and has the ability to infect domestic as well as wild birds. In humans the disease is caused by the Type A flu virus, and if the flu is not treated, it can be fatal. In addition, an infected person can transmit the virus to an uninfected person just by sneezing or coughing. Also, it is not necessary for an infected person to display symptoms.
So, what are the warning signs of bird flu? Usually when the virus enters the body, it has an incubation period. It is only after this that the person will start showing the symptoms of the disease. Some of the first warning signs of bird flu are having a running nose, coughing with phlegm, fever and breathing heavily.
In rural settings in East Asia where people rend to live with chickens and pigs, it is easy for the virus to infect people. In addition, people who work with birds like vets or animal shelter professionals are also at risk of contracting the disease. Besides these, people in the health care industry who tend to already infected individuals are also at high risk of contracting the disease.
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