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A Brief History of the Avian Influenza H5N1 Virus

Though many different influenza viruses infect birds and have for many years, the history of the avian influenza H5N1 virus in people is relatively brief, because the primary cases noted happenred in 2003 in China and Viet Nam, in line with the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO only reports confirmed cases, in which the presence of H5N1 avian influenza microbes have been detected using blood tests or swabs of the infected person’s nose or throat.

Wild birds carry the viruses, but they are often unaffected by them. Nevertheless, in domesticated birds (chickens, ducks and turkeys) the viruses cause illness and generally death. Symptoms may be delicate causing ruffled feathers and low egg production or extreme causing illness that affects a number of organs and demise in 90-one hundred% of flocks in as little as 48 hours. It is believed that the degree of difference in avian flu symptoms is said to the strain of the flu virus infecting the birds. H5N1 avian influenza microbes cause extreme symptoms in poultry and in many cases total flocks have to be destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease.

An infection with avian influenza microbes among humans is uncommon and often happens in individuals handling or tending infected flocks of poultry and most strains, causing only mild illnesses. The history of the avian influenza H5N1 virus has shown that this strain might be deadly to people as well. There have been 253 confirmed cases in people since 2003, leading to 148 deaths. This high proportion of fatalities (58%) following infection with avian influenza microbes has scientists and public health officers throughout the world worried.

Viruses usually change slowly over time and the human immune system can determine them, because they are so similar to beforehand current viruses and respond to them quickly. On uncommon occasions in the past, viruses have modified abruptly, referred to as “antigenic shift”, inflicting extreme sickness, quite a few human deaths and worldwide epidemics. Generally these viruses had not previously infected people, but had infected different animals, reminiscent of pigs or birds. Or, they had not been highly contagious amongst humans, as with the H5N1 strain, but abruptly change and become easily transmitted from one human to another. For the reason that history of the avian influenza H5N1 virus has shown that it might infect people, scientists imagine that it might turn into highly contagious among them, inflicting pandemics or worldwide epidemics. Scientists imagine that only two proteins within the H5N1 avian influenza microbes would wish to alter in order for it to change into as simply transmitted among people because the seasonal flu.

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