Avian Influenza – The ‘Bird flu’ That Can Kill


What Is Avian Influenza?

Avian influenza, also known as bird flu or avian flu, is an infectious virus that spreads quickly amongst otherwise healthy birds and can be transmitted to humans in certain cases. There are many different strains of the avian flu virus and most do not infect humans, but in recent years, 4 strains have been identified that spread to people and can cause serious harm if left untreated.

The 4 strains that have raised concern around the world are H5N1, H7N9, H5N6, and H5N8. These have only been identified in the past 20 years or earlier, and only a handful of people have died as a result of being infected but as there is no vaccine available it’s important to be mindful of the symptoms and how it can be spread.

Although it is primarily found in birds, the first transmission to humans was reported in 1996 in China. Since 2003, over 700 cases of H5N1 infections in humans have been reported to the World Health Organisation.

They are predominantly in Asia but over 60 countries have been affected, and in the past decade, cases of H5N8 avian flu have been reported in wild birds in the UK. Outbreaks of bird flu are often as a result of manmade ecosystems such as indoor commercial poultry facilities and live poultry markets.

What Are The Symptoms?

Usually, symptoms occur 3 to 5 days after being infected but they can appear very suddenly. They include a very high temperature, feeling hot and shivery, aching muscles, a cough, and a headache.

Other symptoms that maybe experienced are diarrhoea, stomach pain or cramps, chest pains, conjunctivitis or bleeding from the nose or gums.

Avian influenza can cause more serious conditions such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome within days of being infected, so it’s very important to get treatment quickly to avoid further complications.

How Is Avian Influenza Treated?

If you think you may have been infected, a doctor will swab your nose and throat to test for the virus. If it is positive, you will be treated using antiviral medication such as zanamivir (Relenza) or oseltamivir (Tamiflu). These can reduce the severity of the illness in your body so help you fight the virus and improve your chances of survival.

As bird flu can be spread through human contact, if you have the virus you will need to isolate from other people and be vigilant with hygiene in order to prevent passing it on. Sometimes, doctors may prescribe treatment for people you have been in contact with even if they aren’t showing the symptoms.

How Is Avian Influenza Spread To Humans?

Avian flu is predominantly spread between infected and healthy birds via airborne transmission or through faecal contamination present on footwear, feed or bedding material. The virus travels quickly, and whole flocks have known to be destroyed within as little as 28 hours.

Humans can catch avian influenza from contact with an infected bird – either dead or alive – or its secretions. For example, touching an infected bird, visiting a market where infected birds are sold, killing or preparing infected poultry or touching infected droppings or bedding. It cannot be transmitted through eating fully cooked poultry or eggs.

How Can We Prevent The Spread Of Avian Influenza?

If you come into contact with a sick or dead bird that you suspect may have the virus, you should avoid touching it or picking it up.

If you are travelling abroad to a country that has had a recent outbreak, you should wash your hands regularly with soap, use different utensils for cooked and raw meat, make sure you cook meat thoroughly and avoid contact with live birds and poultry.

There are other methods of prevention we can take to make sure we maintain a clean and healthy environment with minimal risk of catching avian influenza, for example using an air purification system in buildings to kill harmful viruses that may be in the air.

Can Air Purification Stop The Spread Of Avian Influenza?

PHI (Photohydroionisation) Advanced Oxidation Technology was developed over 20 years ago by one of the worlds leading specialists in air, water and food purification – RGF Environmental – and Airius have integrated the latest version of this technology into their PureAir series of fan systems.  A special catalyst and UV light source are contained within a “cell” in each unit and harness the PHI effect to release ‘Ionised Hydroperoxides’ – which are molecules that can eliminate or neutralise up to 99%+ of harmful viruses, germs, bacteria and mould spores that are harmful to humans.

In a test performed by Kansas State University the RGF PHI system was shown to kill 99%+ of all bird and swine flu viruses within 24 hours. In a similar test it was shown to remove 99%+ of viruses and bacteria that were present on infected surfaces.

The ability to disinfect the surfaces within indoor environments as well as the air within those areas is a feature only available with PHI based indoor fans.

PHI technology is now used all over the world by governments, hospitals and military facilities to ensure public and private buildings maintain a high level of air hygiene and the system has been approved for use by the American and Chinese governments amongst many other similar bodies worldwide.

By choosing to install a PureAir system in your building or facility, you are choosing to protect the welfare of those who are inside it. PureAir provides a constant flow of virtually virus-free, neutralised air in an environmentally friendly, sustainable and technologically advanced way.

For more information, please email info@airius.co.uk or call us on 01202 554200 where a member of our team would be pleased to assist you in any way you require.