What are the Different Avian Flu Symptoms?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 July 2019
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Avian flu, also known as the H5N1 virus, is a type of bird influenza which can be dangerous or even fatal when passed to humans. Being able to recognize common avian flu symptoms such as coughing, muscle aches, fever, and sore throat can be key to securing early medical intervention. As these symptoms resemble those associated with many other viral infections, however, it is also important to understand how avian flu is usually contracted. Although humans have no inbuilt immunity to the H5N1 virus, early treatment with certain antiviral drugs may reduce the severity of the illness.

The first known case of human infection by avian flu struck in Hong Kong in 1997. In the ten years that followed, several hundred human infections were reported throughout Asia as well as parts of Europe and Africa. Of those infected, approximately 60 percent died, leading to alarm among many people worldwide.

Being aware of the different avian flu symptoms can be crucial to securing early treatment of the illness. The most common avian flu symptoms include muscle aches, fever, sore throat, and coughing. In some cases, infected individuals have also experienced diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, and respiratory difficulties.


There is no doubt that avian flu is a serious illness, and that infected individuals should immediately seek treatment. Yet avian flu symptoms resemble those associated with many other types of viral infection, which can lead to unnecessary confusion and panic among those experiencing flu-like symptoms. Therefore, it is important to understand how the illness is generally contracted in order to decide whether one may have been exposed to it.

In most cases, H5N1 has been contracted from direct contact with an infected bird, or through contact with surfaces that have been touched by infected bird feces or saliva. The potential for this type of infection is highest at bird farms, markets, and processing plants. Avian flu may also be contracted by eating an infected bird, although this can occur only if the bird has not been fully cooked. Finally, in very rare instances, the virus has been passed from one infected human to another.

Those who suspect infection by avian flu should contact a physician immediately. In confirmed cases of the illness, physicians may prescribe an antiviral drug. While such drugs cannot cure avian flu, they can reduce the severity of the illness. It is important to note, however, that the drugs must be administered within 48 hours of infection to be effective.



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