Child care: Should I worry about the avian flu?

The avian flu is a form of influenza that primarily affects birds instead of humans. It is important to note that the influenza viruses naturally occur among wild birds, particularly wild water fowl such as geese and ducks and capable of infecting domestic poultry as well as other birds and animals.

How does it spread?

Birds that are infected shed the flu virus via nasal secretions, saliva and feces. The virus spreads once susceptible birds are exposed to the contaminated secretions or surfaces. Take note that the avian flu viruses do not usually infect humans.

Avian flu
The treatment for avian flu includes peramivir, oseltamivir or zanamivir for cases of avian flu that affects humans.

Nevertheless, infections among humans have been reported, generally after direct or close contact with sick ducks, chickens or turkeys. Remember that one will not acquire avian flu after eating fully cooked poultry products such as turkey, chicken or duck.

Precautionary measures

The ideal way to prevent the avian flu is to avoid sources of exposure such as:

  • Always wash hands. Generally, birds carry various diseases aside from avian flu, thus it is important to wash hands using water and soap after spending time around birds or their feces. Avoid rubbing the eyes or touching the mouth or nose while handling birds or their feces.
  • If you or a child finds a sick or dead bird, get in touch with the health department or wildlife agency for more information. If instructed to get rid of the dead bird, wear gloves or an inverted plastic bag to dispose of the bird in a garbage bin.
  • Avoid touching birds at the farm or market or any wild birds in parks.
  • For those who have a pet bird, keep the bird and its food and water inside to prevent exposure to infected birds. Make sure that the cage is clean and wash hands after petting or playing with the bird.
  • All poultry products must be thoroughly cooked to reduce the risk for infection.

What are the indications of avian flu?

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Respiratory failure
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Neurological changes such as seizures or altered status in some cases

Treatment

The treatment for avian flu includes peramivir, oseltamivir or zanamivir for cases of avian flu that affects humans.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on avian flu is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage respiratory conditions including avian flu, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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