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Bird Flu (cont.)

What Are Bird Flu Symptoms in Humans?

Humans get bird flu through close contact with sick or dead poultry or to spending time in poultry markets in countries (mainly Asia, Europe, the Near East, and Africa) known to harbor the virus. Infected people experience typical flu-like symptoms, including

Some people also have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, encephalitis (brain infection), and/or eye infections. Children and even animals (dogs, cats, and other mammals) may develop similar symptoms. This infection can progress to pneumonia and respiratory failure.

In humans, bird flu has caused a very aggressive form of respiratory flu that has progressed to ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, neurologic changes, and even lethal viral pneumonia in some patients according to the CDC (

The incubation period (time from infection to development of symptoms) for H5N1 averages about two to five days (range is 17 days) while H7N9 averages five days with a range of one to 10 days. Although avian influenza viruses are very contagious among wild and domesticated birds, they are weakly contagious in humans, and person-to-person transfer of bird flu viruses is uncommon unless there is very close contact with an infected person (for example, a family member).

When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for Bird Flu?

For any flu-like illness suspected to be due to bird flu virus, call a doctor as soon as possible to see if it is necessary to take an antiviral medication (for example, oseltamivir [Tamiflu]). The medication may shorten the course of the illness or lessen the symptoms. Be sure to mention if you have had any contact with sick or dead poultry or recent travel to an area of the world currently affected by bird flu.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/19/2016

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Bird Flu - Symptoms

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