Bird flu is a disease that is mainly spread between birds. The disease is caused by several variants of the avian influenza virus. Some types of the virus can infect people.
Bird flu that can infect humans is found mainly in Asia and North Africa.
Since 2015, bird flu of the H5N8 variant has been found several times in birds. The same variant has been found in birds in Europe since 2014. This type of bird flu virus has not caused human disease.
How does bird flu infect?
There are several different types of bird flu viruses. The different variants transmit easily between birds, but only certain types of viruses cause the birds to become ill. Most often it is ducks and domestic birds, such as chickens and turkeys, that get sick.
Some bird flu viruses can infect us humans so that we get sick. Two types of viruses that have caused human disease are H5N1 and H7N9. It is very rare to be infected with avian influenza, even in the countries where an outbreak is ongoing.
Very close contact is required to become infected
For you to become infected, you need to have very close contact with infected birds or their feces. The birds must be infected with a variant of the virus that can be spread to humans.
Infection can spread in bird markets. When people have otherwise become infected, they have often had domestic birds in the household or worked with domestic birds.
Symptoms of bird flu
The symptoms of people who have become sick with bird flu vary. Among other things, the problems depend on the type of bird flu virus that is the cause.
Those who are ill can have easier problems, such as an eye infection or the flu.
The infection can also affect the airways and cause severe pneumonia with fever, cough and shortness of breath.
It usually takes between 3 and 5 days after the infection before the disease gives symptoms.
When should I seek care?
Contact a health care center if you have flu-like problems and there is a risk that you have been infected with bird flu. You can contact many receptions by logging in.
Bird Flu Treatment
Bird flu can be treated with antiviral drugs that can reduce the symptoms of bird flu. The effect is better the earlier the treatment is started.
How can I reduce the risk of being infected?
This is what you should consider if you are in a country where there is an outbreak of bird flu that can infect people:
- Avoid catching birds and bird feces.
- Avoid visiting bird markets.
- Avoid eating meat and eggs that have not been cooked to at least 70 degrees heat. Frozen poultry meat does not affect the virus.
At the Public Health Agency there is more information on outbreaks of bird flu among people.
Special rules apply to those who work with birds or, for example, have domestic hens.