Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, or H5N1, presents symptoms that are very similar to any other standard flu virus. The different bird flu symptoms include body aches and pains, fever, coughing, and sore throat. In addition, one of the most notable bird flu symptoms is conjunctivitis, which is an infection of the eyes. Sometimes, conjunctivitis is the only symptom that occurs after becoming infected with bird flu, so it is important to take note of it occurring after coming into contact with birds.
Bird flu symptoms may also cause vomiting or nausea, as well as diarrhea. These symptoms are somewhat less common, however, so it is necessary to consider all the symptoms that are present when trying to determine whether it is bird flu or a regular influenza virus. Keep in mind that the standard flu vaccine does not protect against bird flu. Usually, the bird flu symptoms will occur within two to five days of exposure to the virus, and will quickly worsen from there.
The treatment of bird flu is usually done through antiviral medications, and it is best to administer these medications within the first few days of contracting the virus. A doctor will need to do a culture to determine whether the bird flu symptoms are actually indicative of bird flu. This culture is performed by swabbing the throat or nose, then analyzing the sample in a lab. If the virus is not treated, the symptoms can become much worse, and can even lead to death in some cases.
Sometimes, the bird flu symptoms will progress to pneumonia or make it very difficult to breathe. It could also cause a collapsed lung, or other heart and respiratory problems that can be fatal. It even has the potential to cause kidney damage or kidney failure. These problems are often worse in older or younger people, but anyone can be affected by these issues, even those people with a healthy immune system.
Though bird flu can spread from person to person, it is most often caused by visiting farms or public markets where birds are located. For this reason, it is very important to let a physician know about any recent travel or visits to places such as this, where birds may be kept in an unsanitary manner, allowing visitors to inadvertently contact the feces of the birds. Bird flu does not occur by eating bird meat that has been properly cooked.