Bird Flu: Avian Influenza.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Cockatiel health















Bird flu (avian Influenza)


Nowadays lots of people discussing about bird flu or avian influanza. Since pet is about keeping pet cockatiel (birds), I think it is necessary for me to have this information for my visitors. The information that I provide here is some fact about bird flu and some simple step to prevent it. However, for bird keeper, you can read more about my opinion of the bird flu and keeping birds.


Following are some key facts about avian influenza:

Avian influenza (also called avian flu, bird flu or duck flu) is caused by a different type of influenza virus that can infect domestic poultry flocks and wild birds. It is present in birds in many parts of Asia and is spreading in birds across to Eastern Europe.

Avian influenza can be spread to humans by birds infected with the virus. It may be possible for the virus to be spread by close human contact to infected birds. To date there have been 117 human cases of avian flu in four countries (Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand). * the number will increase from time to time.

Avian flu initially develops in the same way as an ordinary seasonal flu. Its symptoms include sudden fever, cough, sore throat and muscle pain. Other symptoms may include diarrhea, headache and convulsions.

Any contact with an infected bird, even ones that look healthy, can cause you to be infected. (Infected birds may not show any symptoms of illness.) The virus can be spread by contact with the meat, eggs, blood, saliva, feathers and feces of infected poultry; but thorough cooking of poultry meat will inactivate the virus.

Despite possible rare instances of human-to-human transmission of avian flu, health officials have stated that there is no evidence the virus has evolved into an easily transmissible form. However, the concern is that if the avian flu virus changes so that it can be transmitted easily from human-to-human, it could spread quickly and cause a global epidemic (pandemic).

Vaccines effective against a potential pandemic avian flu virus are not yet available. Vaccines are produced each year for seasonal flu, but these will not protect against contracting avian flu. Although a vaccine against the current strain of avian flu virus is under development in some countries, no vaccine is ready for commercial production and no vaccines are expected to be widely available until several months after the start of a pandemic.

Two antiviral drugs (Tamiflu and Relenza) can reduce the severity and duration of illness caused by seasonal flu if given within 48 hours after symptoms begin. Information is limited, but health officials expect the avian flu virus is also susceptible to these drugs. These drugs are in short supply and some countries are trying to stockpile doses for use in a pandemic. Current global production capacity falls far short of the demand expected in the event of a pandemic.



Some tip to prevent bird flu:

1. Avoid Physical Exposure to infected Birds

Avoid all contact with chickens, ducks or other poultry and their waste.

Do not transport, eat or prepare poultry from affected areas.

Wash your hands well with soap and water after any contact with the body or feces of any bird or animal.

If you walk on soil contaminated with the feces of any bird or animal, remove your shoes outside the house and clean them of all dirt, and immediately wash your hands well with soap and water

If you have any exposure to the body or feces of any bird or animal -- even if it is only by walking on contaminated soil -- check your temperature for 7 days at least once daily. If you develop a high temperature (above 37.5C or 99.5F), visit a doctor or the nearest health care facility immediately.

To protect your family, teach your children to wash their hands with soap and water after every contact with a bird or animal and do not allow your children to:

Come into contact with any birds, their feathers, feces and other waste.

Keep birds as pets.

Sleep near poultry.


2. Avoid Exposure to infected food.


The virus is killed by heat. To avoid the spread of the virus through food, follow these good hygienic practices when handling and cooking poultry meat and eggs:

All poultry should be thoroughly cooked before consumption. Thorough cooking of poultry meat will inactivate the viruses. Temperatures of 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 76.7 to 82.2 degrees Celsius are recommended. Never eat raw or semi-cooked poultry products.

All eggs should be washed while in their shells, and then thoroughly cooked prior to eating. They must not be eaten "runny". Do not use raw or soft-boiled eggs in food preparations that will not be heat treated/cooked.

Separate raw meat from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.

Do not use the same chopping board or the same knife.

Do not handle both raw and cooked foods without washing your hands in between and do not place cooked meat back on the same plate or surface it was on before cooking.

Wash your hands after handling frozen or thawed raw chicken or eggs.

 If you want to check out about some news regarding asian bird flu pandemic, you can check it out from Malaysia Bird Forum

Cockatiel Books and Video Tapes from Avian Publications

The Complete Pet Bird Owner's Handbook (Revised Edition) by Dr. Gary A. Gallerstein

Avian Medicine: Principles and Application (Abridged Edition) by Dr. Branson Ritchie, Dr. Greg Harrison, Linda Harrison & Dr. Donald W. Zantop




5 December 2005

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