The facts about Bird Flu

October 24, 2005 | by DoctorSolve

Is my family safe?

Currently, the number one health issue in the media is the possible Avian (commonly referred to as the Bird Flu) influenza pandemic. With all the worst-case scenarios and varying sources being quoted, it is hard to be sure if the facts you read are, in fact, accurate.

The Bird Flu, caused by the H5N1 virus, is an infectious disease in birds caused by type “A” strains of the flu virus. Currently, this disease is not being transmitted by humans. While the disease is a veterinarian emergency, it is not a human pandemic. At this time, the flu strain is NOT circulating in North America.

The reason experts fear that the Bird flu will become an international pandemic is a simple fact that the flu has the ability to change its gene structure. In layman’s terms, that means the virus can change and vaccines and or mitigating medications may no longer be effective.

That being said, as a result of Bird flu being the health industry “hot topic”, there is a lot of fear-mongering in today’s media.

Last year, over 500,000 people died from influenza. Only 100 people died as a result of the H5N1 virus. People hear the fatality rate of people infected with the H5N1 virus is as high as 50%. Unfortunately, this statistic is very misleading.

While it is true that the virus was fatal for 50% of hospitalized people infected with the H5N1 virus, no one knows how many people were affected with minor symptoms and survived.

There is no way to determine how many people assumed the contracted virus was simply the common flu, and treated the virus as if it were simply the flu.

How can I prevent contracting the virus?

The media also indicates that if the virus mutates so that it can be passed by humans, the transmission of the virus is unstoppable. This again is not true.

Using many of the same techniques you use to prevent the transmission of the common influenza virus, you can significantly decrease your chances of contracting the H5N1 virus.

Prevention techniques include:

  • Spray disinfectant on doorknobs, counter tops, and appliance handles on a daily basis.
  • Virus can jump from a surface to your hands and then from your hands to another surface. By wiping down high traffic areas, you will prevent the virus from transferring to other people.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Use antiviral tissue to open and close doors. Antiviral tissues claim to kill 99.9% of cold and flu viruses.
  • Try to stay healthy. Eat well and healthfully, get exercise, and reduce your stress. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will keep your body strong, and help you fight off disease.

There are several more extreme prevention techniques that you may want to use, although the preceding techniques should help you prevent contracting the virus.

More extreme techniques include:

  • Use disposable toothbrushes
  • Avoid using public washrooms
  • Avoid using pay phones

What are the real dangers?

Although currently the disease cannot be passed human-to-human, and can be prevented with the same techniques as you attempt to prevent contracting the normal influenza virus, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) warns that has the potential to acquire the ability to spread easily from human to human, and trigger a global pandemic.

The W.H.O. believes the H5N1 virus could trigger a pandemic for the following reasons:

  • The H5N1 virus is circulating more quickly than initially perceived
  • Influenza pandemics are cyclical and therefore a pandemic is due
  • Virtually no human would be immune to a new influenza virus derived from poultry
  • The increase speed at which humans and products are moved across the world helps the virus spread even faster

There is NO vaccine for the H5N1 virus. At present, medication can only help you fight the Avian flu virus, not prevent contraction. The medication most often recommended by physicians and governments is the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu.

Some people suggest taking Tamiflu daily to ensure your body can fight off the H5N1 virus. The problem with daily ingestion is that the current supply of the drug is decreasing.

The drug simply can not be created as fast as it is being consumed. It is more effective to purchase the Tamiflu, and if taken within the first (2) days of infection, Tamiflu will help your body mitigate the effects of the disease.

Currently there is a manufacturer shortage of Tamiflu. As a result, DoctorSolve can no longer fill patient orders for the drug. Please check the DoctorSolve web site periodically for updates on the availability of Tamiflu.

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