Bird Flu (cont.)

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What are risk factors for bird flu?

Risk factors for bird flu are few; the greatest risks are for people who encounter infected birds, their droppings, and surfaces that have been contaminated by sick or infected birds or their feathers, saliva, or dead birds. "Birds" means almost any type of domestic or wild birds, but most bird flu infections occur in bird populations that permit easy bird-to bird transmission (birds that flock together or domestic chicken farms). Currently, person-to person transfer is rare but possible.

When should people seek medical care for bird flu?

For any flu-like illness especially after association with sick or dead birds, call a doctor as soon as possible to see if an antiviral medication (for example, oseltamivir [Tamiflu]) should be taken. The medication may shorten the course of the illness or lessen the symptoms. Mention any contact with sick or dead poultry or recent travel to an area affected by bird flu. However, as stated by the CDC, "oseltamivir and zanamivir would probably work to treat influenza caused by H5N1 (bird flu) virus, but additional studies still are needed to be done to demonstrate their effectiveness." The CDC in 2013 has said essentially the same for H7N9 possible infections.

For travelers to one of the affected countries where bird flu has been observed, see a doctor immediately if a respiratory illness with fever develops.

Most clinicians agree that people with diagnosed or even suspected bird flu usually require hospitalization.

Is it possible to catch bird flu from another person?

Currently, the data from China and other areas suggest that only rarely does one person catch bird flu from another infected person. Clinicians worldwide hope that person-to-person transfer continues to be a rare event.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/10/2014