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How The Bird Flu Virus Lives And Spreads

By Sarah Jenkins

Bird flu is a serious and dangerous virus. With so much controversy over this deadly disease, it is a good idea to have some kind of idea what you are up against. Knowing how the virus lives and spreads makes it easier to protect yourself from infection.

First, it should be understood that bird flu is much like the other strains of influenza. Like the flu that goes around every year, bird flu is transmitted from the exchange of the virus through droplets of saliva, mucus, or other excretions. However, bird flu is not transmitted from human contact, but through the handling or ingestion of infected poultry. It is more common for people to be impacted by bird flu that handle birds for agricultural purposes or eat infected fowl that is not properly handled.

The virus lives within poultry and survives in the feces of the animal for several days, if not weeks. Therefore, regular contact with birds, especially in dense populations, increases the possibility of contracting the disease. To avoid infection, limit contact with potentially dangerous poultry.

It should also be clear that this particular virus was not always a threat to humans. Prior to 1997, there were no known cases of H5N1, the deadly strain of bird flu, infecting humans. Since the virus first came to pass in the early 1900's, it has mutated and transformed into a different form. This mutation is vital to the ongoing vitality of influenza and is the primary source for the concern surrounding H5N1. The virus continually manipulates itself to bypass treatment techniques and survive in varying environments.

Once the virus is transmitted to a person, it is incredibly interesting what takes place. There are two factors within the immune system that contribute to the devastation of the virus. First, the virus causes an exaggerated response in cytokines, hormones that regulate the immune system. This increase makes the immune system unstable and actually has a negative effect on the body itself, as well as making fighting infection difficult. Secondly, other aspects of the immune system are suppressed, allowing the virus to run rampant within the body.

Since the virus is not bacterial in nature, antibiotics are ineffective in treating the disease. In many illnesses, antibiotics are administered, which suppress the immune system and fight the infection; however, this is not an option due to the nature of bird flu; therefore, the most effective treatment is prevention.

About The Author

Sarah Jenkins is an acclaimed writer on medical matters, and has written extensively on the subjects of Attention Deficit Disorder, Bird Flu and Cohn's Disease. For more of her articles, go to now.


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