GR 1144

Understanding Avian Influenza: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Jun 24, 2024
Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, affects both wild and domesticated birds. Learn about its symptoms, causes, and how to treat this disease to ensure the health of both birds and humans.
Homed-Understanding Avian Influenza: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Avian Influenza Symptoms and Treatment

What is Avian Influenza?

Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is an infectious viral disease that primarily affects birds, both wild and domesticated. However, certain strains of the virus can infect humans and other animals. Influenza type A viruses cause the disease, classified based on two surface proteins: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N).


In Birds:

In birds, avian influenza can present with a variety of symptoms, depending on the virulence of the virus strain. These symptoms include:

  • Sudden death without any signs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased egg production
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, comb, and legs
  • Nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Nervous signs such as tremors, incoordination, and paralysis

In Humans:

Humans infected with avian influenza may exhibit a range of symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe respiratory illness, including pneumonia
  • Eye infections (conjunctivitis)
  • In severe cases, multi-organ failure and death

Causes and Transmission

Avian influenza viruses are naturally found in the intestines of wild birds, particularly waterfowl. These birds can carry the virus without showing symptoms and shed it through their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Domestic poultry, such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys, often become infected through direct contact with infected birds, contaminated water, feed, equipment, and clothing.

Human infections typically occur through direct or close contact with infected birds or contaminated environments. This can happen during activities such as poultry farming, slaughtering, defeathering, butchering, and preparation of poultry for consumption.

Types of Avian Influenza Viruses

Avian influenza viruses are categorized into two main groups based on their pathogenicity in birds:

  • Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI): These viruses usually cause mild symptoms in birds, such as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production.
  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI): These viruses can cause severe disease and high mortality rates in birds.

Notable Strains:

  • H5N1: One of the most well-known HPAI strains, H5N1 has caused serious outbreaks in poultry and has infected humans with a high mortality rate.
  • H7N9: Another significant strain that has caused human infections, particularly in China.

Treatment and Prevention

In Birds:

  • Culling: Authorities often cull infected and exposed birds to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Biosecurity Measures: Farmers can implement strict biosecurity measures, such as controlling the movement of birds, cleaning and disinfecting equipment, and preventing contact with wild birds.
  • Vaccination: Some countries may use vaccines to protect poultry from certain strains of avian influenza.

In Humans:

  • Antiviral Medications: Doctors can use antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) to treat human infections and may reduce the severity of symptoms.
  • Hospitalization: Severe cases may require hospitalization and supportive care, including respiratory support.
  • Preventive Measures: Avoiding contact with infected birds, practicing good hygiene, and using personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling birds can help reduce the risk of infection.


In conclusion, avian influenza remains a significant concern for both animal and human health due to its potential to cause severe outbreaks and high mortality rates. Therefore, continuous monitoring, effective biosecurity practices, and prompt response to outbreaks are crucial in controlling the spread of the virus. Moreover, public awareness and preventive measures are essential to reduce the risk of human infections.

Avian Influenza Symptoms and Treatment



+30 or WhatsApp +30 697.69.13.046


The call center is available 24/7 at +30
The WhatsApp phone at +30 697.69.13.046 is available daily from 07:00 to 23:00.