Disclaimer: The patient-oriented information on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a physician. The information is intended to help patients understand their symptoms and allergic diseases(s) better and make the time spent with a doctor more productive.
Avian Flu Symptoms: How Can You Tell If You Have H5N1?
North America's first death from the H5N1 virus, also known as avian or bird flu, was reported in Alberta today, contracted by a victim who had just returned from China. While officials have been quick to reassure Canadians that this was an isolated incident and not related to the seasonal flu, this potentially fatal illness has many wondering about the symptoms of this influenza.
Most avian flu viruses do not infect humans, but some, like the highly pathogenic H5N1, can cause severe infections, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
When the H5N1 strain of bird flu appears in humans, it mimics a severe case of the flu, like H1N1 (swine flu). Flu.gov, the U.S. site for flu information, notes that symptoms of H5N1 in humans include:
- Acute respiratory distress
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
The diagnosis of H5N1 based on symptoms alone is difficult because they are so similar to other flu strains; laboratory testing is required to confirm infection, according to the the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The bird flu is generally spread to people through direct contact with infected birds or poultry livestock. The H5N1 virus can live in the environment for extended periods, but cannot be contracted by eating properly handled, cooked poultry or eggs, and thus far has not shown any sign of spreading easily from person to person, though that is always a likelihood, warns the CDC. As the Lung Association notes, there has been limited transmission in the case of long-term contact with sick relatives.
Complications from the avian flu include a range of severe illnesses, including:
- Altered mental state
La toux et la fatigue peuvent toutefois durer jusqu’à 2 semaines, et même plus.
Vous pouvez soulager les symptômes de la grippe en prenant les mesures suivantes:
Si vous avez de la fièvre, votre corps perd naturellement beaucoup de liquide, surtout par la transpiration. Il est donc important de boire beaucoup et souvent.
- Buvez de préférence des liquides froids ou chauds: eau, lait, jus, bouillon.
- Évitez les boissons alcoolisées ou contenant de la caféine comme le café, le thé et les boissons énergisantes. Comme ces boissons font uriner, elles font augmenter la perte de liquide.
En l’absence de complications ou de facteurs de risque de complications, le traitement de la grippe ne nécessite pas de médicaments prescrits. Toutefois, pour soulager la fièvre et la douleur, vous pouvez prendre des médicaments offerts en vente libre comme l’acétaminophène, par exemple du Tylenol MD, ou l’ibuprofène, par exemple de l'Advil MD.
Évitez de prendre en même temps des médicaments qui comprennent des ingrédients identiques. Par exemple, ne prenez pas de Tylenol MD et de Tylenol MD Sinus ensemble, car ces 2 médicaments contiennent de l’acétaminophène.
Dans certains cas, votre médecin peut vous prescrire un médicament antiviral pour diminuer la durée et la gravité de vos symptômes. Ce type de médicament est plus efficace lorsqu’il est pris dès le début de l’infection.
Si votre enfant a plus de 3 mois et qu’il a de la fièvre, vous pouvez lui donner de l’acétaminophène, par exemple du Tylenol MD, en suivant les indications fournies avec le produit et selon le poids de votre enfant.
Évitez de donner de l’acide acétylsalicylique, par exemple de l’aspirine, aux enfants et aux adolescents. En effet, ce médicament pourrait entraîner l’apparition d’une maladie grave du cerveau et du foie, maladie appelée « syndrome de Reye », chez des enfants et adolescents qui ont la grippe.
La grippe peut entraîner certaines complications:
- déshydratation, due à la transpiration causée par la fièvre;
Chez les personnes considérées comme plus vulnérables, certaines complications peuvent entraîner l’hospitalisation et même la mort.
Richard Wenzel: In a study during SARS outbreak in China, masks appeared to be protective, however you are correct, there has to be a tight fit of the mask around the face. Currently, we would recommend N-95 masks if this disease progresses in the US.
Potomac, Md.: How do I know if my kids have the swine flu or just a cold? They both have sore throats, fevers, coughs.
Richard Wenzel: Children or adults with fever and muscle aches and cough with or without diarrhea and vomiting should today be tested for influenza in light of the growing numbers of swine flu patients being identified in the US.
Tampa Bay, Fla.: Could you talk a little about recognizing the difference between a cold and a flu. Is fever the key factor? What about runny nose?
Richard Wenzel: Fever and cough are very distinguishing features of influenza. A running nose by itself is more likely a common cold virus, rhinovirus.
Washington D.C.: Any ideas as to why this disease only appears to be fatal in Mexico?
Richard Wenzel: Interesting question, since the virus seems to be the same in both the US and Mexico. Therefore, we have to look at the host: possibilities include some protective cross reacting antibodies in US patients that are not present in Mexican patients, possible the air pollution in Mexico City that damages the airways, and possibility malnutrition in some patients in Mexico. However, the bottom line is that we do not know.
Anonymous: North Potomac, Md. We are flying to Albany, N.Y. later this week. Should we wear surgical masks on the plane? Thanks
Richard Wenzel: At this point it is probably not necessary. Large planes such as 758s have laminar airflow (ceiling to floor) which offers additional protection. However, if possible, I would move away from someone with any obvious respiratory infection.
Richmond, Va.: I have a toddler who sucks her thumb/fingers. How do I keep her "germ free" at a playground -- esp. in light of swine flu. Would a baby wipe be effective until we're able to get to a place to wash her hands?
Richard Wenzel: In general alcohol wipes will kill the influenza virus. However, I know how often you would have to apply this to your toddler's hands.
Alexandria, Va.: Is there an incubation period? And, if so, are you contagious during this period?
Richard Wenzel: In general, the incubation period is two to five days. Adult patients will excrete the virus for up to a week, but young children can excrete virus for two to three weeks. People who are immune suppressed who are infected with influenza can excrete the virus for over three weeks after infection.
Rockville, Md.: Any clues as to why this outbreak is occurring so late in the season? Why do flu outbreaks usually only occur in the winter months?
Richard Wenzel: Of interest, the 1918 influenza pandemic began in the Spring and recurred the following Winter. No one knows why the virus usually occurs in the Winter and Spring on an annual basis. There is more crowding indoors in the Winter and Spring and less humidity, and some experts think that these are important in explaining the seasonal nature of influenza.
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So, what are the symptoms of walking pneumonia? Most of the symptoms of walking pneumonia are very similar to what a person gets when they have a cold or a flu. They could have: a sore throat, a fever, malaise, a dry cough and a headache. What makes the symptoms of walking pneumonia different from the symptoms associated with a bad cold or flu? Two words can answer that question: timeframe and severity. When a person is suffering through the symptoms of walking pneumonia, they will suffer a lot longer than if they were simply experiencing the typical problems of a cold or a flu. Additionally, the treatment methods that work for colds and flus won’t work for alleviating the symptoms of walking pneumonia.
The only real way to get rid of the symptoms of walking pneumonia is to either wait for the disease to go away on its on or get medical attention. The latter is recommended, since there are rare cases where the disease can become something more serious. And even when it doesn’t, it can take up to a month for the body to get rid of the disease on its own. That is way to long to be suffering with these types of symptoms. But if you go to the doctor once the symptoms appear, you can get antibiotics. With antibiotics the symptoms of walking pneumonia will clear up in a week or less. In addition, you will be monitored to make sure the disease doesn’t get any worse. Sure, such things are not very common for people with healthy immune systems, but since it can happen it’s best you don’t take any chances.
Once you get on antibiotics, you do not necessarily need bed rest to help speed up the recovery process. As long as walking pneumonia is medically treated, you can do what you would normally do without fear of infecting other people. However, even while you are on antibiotics, you will still suffer through the symptoms of walking pneumonia, even if it’s for a small period of time. You may want to wait for your symptoms to clear up before you return to work, since they can still make you feel miserable.
In conclusion, don’t ignore the symptoms of walking pneumonia because they are not in the same league as traditional pneumonia. True, they are not as extreme, but they are still indicative that things are not completely normal with your body.
When someone says, "I have a cold," what he or she means is, "There is something in my body that is causing me to have the set of symptoms that we call a 'cold.'" The set of symptoms normally includes things like a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, "chills" and a headache. It does not include a fever -- normally, if there is a fever it's called "the flu."
There are many different viruses that can cause cold symptoms, but about half of the time a cold is caused by a class of viruses called rhinoviruses.
The rhinovirus gets into the cells lining your nose and starts reproducing. It arrives from other people -- it is not cold weather that causes a cold, but the fact that cold weather causes people to congregate together indoors, which makes transmission of the virus easier. The virus generally moves from someone else's hands to your hands (either directly or through some intermediate surface like a door knob), and from your hands into your nose or eyes.
Your body reacts to the presence of the virus with its immune system. The article How Your Immune System Works talks about infectious diseases and how your immune system deals with them. In the case of a cold, the immune system opens up blood vessels through inflammation and also increases mucus secretions. These two processes give you the runny nose and the stuffy feeling. The irritation caused by the virus and all of the fluid causes sneezing. If the virus makes it into the cells lining the lungs, then they start producing fluid and mucus as well, which produces the cough.
As the immune system gears up over several days and fights the virus, the mucus thickens and changes color with dead cells (a form of pus, really). Eventually, the immune system eliminates the virus completely and you are well again!
For more information, see the links on the next page.
Malaria can occur despite taking anti-malarial drugs and symptoms of malaria infection usually occur within 9 to 14 days.
The general symptoms include: