Avian Flu

Chickens In A Barn

What is avian flu?

Avian flu, or bird flu, is a lung and airway disease caused by a type of influenza that spreads among birds.

There are many different strains of avian flu but the 4 main strains that have caused concern in recent years are H5N1, H7N9, H5N6, and H5N8. Any bird can be infected by the virus including wild birds, pet birds, and poultry and game birds.

What are the symptoms of avian flu in birds?

Birds suffering from influenza may display some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Breathing problems
  • Swelling around the head
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy

Some birds may not display any symptoms at all and may just die. If birds are not treated quickly the fatality rate is high.

Can avian flu spread to humans?

Avian flu can spread to humans if you have close contact with an infected bird. This could be from touching an infected dead or live bird, touching droppings or bedding, or killing or preparing infected poultry.

You can’t catch avian flu by eating eggs or properly cooked poultry and game.

Most cases of avian flu in humans have occurred after close contact with infected poultry.  

What are the symptoms of avian flu in humans?

Symptoms of avian flu can appear quickly. They are similar to the symptoms caused by the human flu virus and can include the following:

  • A high temperature
  • Feeling hot or shivery
  • Aching muscles
  • A cough
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sickness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Bleeding from the nose and gums
  • Conjunctivitis

It usually takes about 3 to 5 days for the first symptoms to appear after someone has been infected. Without treatment more severe symptoms can appear including pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, neurological changes

Have there been any outbreaks of avian flu in the UK?

Since 2006, there have been a number of outbreaks of avian flu in the UK which have mostly happened on poultry farms. There have also been a few cases where avian flu has been found in wild birds.

There have been no cases of avian flu infecting humans in the UK.

Can garden birds catch avian flu?

All wild birds can catch avian flu but there have been no recent cases reported in the UK. Avian flu has been found in waterfowl including a case of a tufted duck that died at the RSPB nature reserve at Rye Meads.

First Cuckoo Ledbury 2010

Simon from Ledbury, Hertfordshire heard his first cuckoo this morning – he commented, “One day late isn’t bad.”

We agree! Can anyone beat Simon?

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