The recent growth of bird flu cases popping up around the globe has triggered a world wide concern to prevent the spreading of this lethal disease.
Firstly, avian flu or bird flu caused by the H5N1 virus is a very common affliction with wild birds. Although they are only carriers without being affected by the infection, the disease is deadly for domestic poultry and humans.
Furthermore, the increased number of people affected by avian flu and its high mortality rate proved that the H5N1 virus has the power to mutate and redevelop its structure. The virus can be detected in the saliva and nasal secrets of birds. The potential of new strains being developed is more likely to happen in under-privileged communities where people live in close quarters with poultry. For example, sharing the same water between various types of domesticated animals can determine animal-to-animal transmission and even more drastically animal-to-human transmission.
Additionaly, even the common flu virus manifests a permanent antigenic shift. For this reason, the vaccines must be constantly updated to be able to fight-back the newest strains of the virus. Until now there have been detected three types of influenza viruses: A, B and C, the former being the most dangerous to humans.
Moreover, immunity deficiency against avian flu can generate a world wide pandemic. Even more the virus does not respond to Amantadine (drugs used to treat flu). Among the manifestations of the infection are: fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, lethargy, conjunctivitis (eye infections), chest pains and breathing problems. Death occurs because of respiratory illnesses in no more than weeks after contacting the infection. The cases of avian flu affecting humans have provoked the killing of millions of domestic birds in South-East Asia in a desperate attempt to prevent the further spread of the virus.
All in all, the possibility of the H5N1 virus to cause a flu pandemic has put scientists on a tight race to protect human existence by creating an efficient vaccine against this dreadful disease.