Tuesday, October 11, 2005


As of right now, one of the major stories in the news is the chicken flu or avian influenza. From what I've been hearing and reading in the news, it's a pretty bad flu that can hurt human beings. But I don't know that much about it so I decided to research it and hopefully develop a better understanding.
The first question I asked, what is it? The virus right now that is affecting humans and chicken is the H5N1. H5N1 is one of 15 types of avian influenza that infects birds around the world. The virus is contagious and fatal to birds, and can be transitted to humans.
However, reseach has shown that its not SARS. This virus can't readily be contained like SARS and this strain of the virus can hurt human beings more than SARS can.
The second question is, how are birds being exposed? Poultry is being exposed to it by wild birds. The virus can survive for four days in 71 F(22C) and more than 30 days at 32 F (0C). This current outbreak is being blamed on chickens and their droppings.
Third question, when was the first outbreak? From what I remembered, the first outbreak was in Hong Kong in 1997. What I didn't know was that a total of 18 people were hosptialized and six people were reported to have died from the virus. Also 1.5 million chickens were destroyed.
My fourth question was, how can it affect humans? if the virus get into contact with a human the virus mutates. The virus will combine itself to a human influenza and can be passed on to person-to person.
Since there is no vaccine for this type of bird flu, researchers have found the virus can be treated with flu drugs. The two types of drugs are Tamiflu and Relenza. To prevent further outbreak chickens and other animals must be destroyed if they show signs of the H5N1.
In my opinion this is very scary. As of right now, America doesn't have a vaccine made to take care of this new avian influenza strain. This could also hurt our economy and really hurt chicken farmers. I can only hope that if we are exposed, we'll be prepared for it.


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