What bird flu is, how it is transmitted to humans, and the symptoms explained



Britain is in the grip of its biggest ever outbreak of bird flu, with more than 60 confirmed cases in England since the beginning of November.

About a million birds are estimated to have been killed in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus in Lincolnshire, which has a high density of poultry farms and has seen 12 confirmed outbreaks so far.

On Thursday, British officials confirmed one cases of bird flu had been identified in a person in the south west of England, in an extremely rare case of bird-to-human transmission.

It is likely that they became infected after having very close contact with a sick or dead bird, and the risk to the public is very low, officials said.

What is bird flu and how is it spread?

Avian influenza or avian influenza is a type of influenza that spreads among birds. The H5N1 strain of the virus is currently responsible for a large number of outbreaks across the UK, with 63 confirmed cases of the strain since November.

The government has imposed one Bird flu prevention zone throughout the UK, which legally requires all bird owners to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread of the disease.

Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, said there were a growing number of cases of birds on both commercial farms and in backyard flocks across the country.

While the main source of infection came from wild migratory birds, she said the virus could also spread to people’s clothes and shoes.

“Many poultry farmers have excellent biosafety standards, but the number of cases we see suggests that not enough is being done to keep bird flu out,” she told the BBC.

“Implementing careful biosafety has never been more critical.”

Bird flu poses no risk to chicken meat or eggs, according to Professor Ian Jones, an expert on viruses at the University of Reading, and there is no need for a public alarm.

In Lincolnshire, where several cases have been discovered, exclusion zones have been set up around localities and birds have been slaughtered.

Infected birds have symptoms including a swollen head, blue discoloration around the neck and throat, and difficulty breathing.

British government officials warn that dead or sick birds should not be touched.

What do we know about the human case of bird flu?

A person who has been confirmed to have bird flu is currently healthy and self-isolating, British officials have said.

Their close contacts are closely monitored and there are no signs of further spread. The person has been identified in the media as Alan Gosling, 79, from Buckfastleigh in Devon.

it is very rare for strains of avian influenza to transmit from bird to human and require close, prolonged contact. Symptoms in humans typically include high temperature, sore muscles, headache, feeling hot or shivering and cough or shortness of breath.

According to British officials, the person became infected after “very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their homes for an extended period of time”.

The person has the H5 virus found in birds, but it is not yet clear if they have the H5N1 strain that is responsible for the recent outbreaks.

It is the first human case of the tribe in Britain, although there have been cases elsewhere in the world. The World Health Organization has been notified.

The case was confirmed after the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) identified an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in the individual bird flock.

The person was washed – as is routine for those who have come in contact with infected birds – and found low levels of H5.

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Professor Isabel Oliver, chief scientific officer at the UK Health Safety Agency, said: “While the risk of avian influenza to the public is very low, we know that some strains have the potential to spread to humans, which is why we have robust systems in place. room to detect these early and intervene.

“Currently, there is no evidence that this strain detected in the UK can be spread from person to person, but we know that viruses are constantly evolving and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

“We have followed up on all of this person’s contacts and have not identified any further spread.

“It remains critical that people do not touch sick or dead birds and that they follow Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] reporting advice. “

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