Influenza is in no way a new ailment to plague the people of the world. However, a new deadly strand of the virus has everyone running for cover. How do you avoid catching flu, including the dangerous bird flu that threatens so many?
First, it should be explained that bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a virus much like the regular flu we are accustomed to. It is transmitted in much the same way, through droplets of saliva and mucus. However, bird flu is currently only transmitted from infected birds to humans and can not be passed from human to human like the regular flu. The main concern arises with bird flu as it is expected to mutate and at some point be transmitted by humans as well. Until this takes place, bird flu is only passed from infected birds to humans by way of direct contact with the animal or its feces.
The current outbreak of bird flu is taking place in Asia; therefore, there is little concern of catching the virus unless you are in that region and handling fowl. However, once the virus mutates it will be transmitted much like the standard flu and may be avoided in much the same way.
The obvious first step in lowering your risk of catching the virus is being administered a vaccine. There is currently not a vaccine for the dangerous strand of influenza, but one is being developed. With any luck one will be produced prior to any widespread contamination of the virus.
Another option is one utilized in most regular flu cases – taking antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu. These are expected to be effective on the dangerous strand of influenza as well as the regular flu virus. However, for this treatment to be useful, it must be administered early in the virus, typically within two days of showing symptoms. This and other drugs do not cure the virus, but instead lessen the effects of the symptoms. They may, however, prevent the virus from becoming severe.
The most effective way to avoid catching the flu, the regular flu as well as the bird flu, is prevention. Proper hygiene reduces the risk of the spread of influenza. Simple things, like washing your hands and avoiding close contact with sick people, may be your best technique in lowering your risk of becoming infected. Utilizing hand sanitizer is also a useful option.