“A mutant – and deadly – strain of the bird flu has emerged in Asia and could sweep the globe, world health officials warned,” the New York Daily News reported today. According to US News and World Report, “Though the deadly virus had been in decline since appearing in 2003, wild bird migrations have brought it back to previously virus-free countries, and a mutant strain has already killed people in Asia.” All eight people in Cambodia infected with strain H5N1 have died, and according to US News, “most of the people who died have been healthy children and young adults, which is terrifyingly similar to the killer 1918 flu pandemic.”
So far there have been no cases of avian flu reported on US soil, but those traveling to Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal, Mongolia, the Koreas, Romania, Bulgaria and Israel should be wary.
Need to know the symptoms of bird flu and how to keep your family safe?
“Bird flu symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, and eye infections,” US News reports. As you’re probably aware, “the virus can cause pneumonia, severe respiratory disease, and death.” Humans most susceptible to the virus are those who “have extensive contact with infected birds, often by working in poultry production.”
Anyone traveling to the aforementioned countries “should steer clear of farms and live-animal markets,” says Kathy Neuzil, an infectious-disease expert. She adds, “For most casual tourists, this is not a major threat.” If you have questions about avian influenza, visit The World Health Organization’s site for the latest on outbreaks. You can get more detailed information about H5N1 here. And don’t forget to get your seasonal influenza vaccine this fall/winter.
Brush up with Babble’s Back-to-School Health Guide!