Do you have avian flu?

Rating your risk
If you live in an urban setting and rarely stray far from home, you have a very low risk of avian flu infection. Almost all human cases of avian flu have come after close contact with live birds, on poultry farms or in regions experiencing avian flu outbreaks. Travel to certain countries may increase your odds of infection, especially if you visit poultry farms or markets selling live birds. Handling feathers or droppings may also expose you to the virus.

But keep in mind that it is still relatively difficult for people to catch avian flu from infected birds. And it is extremely rare for the virus, in its present form, to pass from one person to another. You also won't get avian flu from eating well-cooked poultry or poultry products.

So if you live in downtown Regina and take your vacations in Florida, you are extremely unlikely to become infected with avian flu... even if your favourite meals are fried chicken and scrambled eggs.

Sizing up your symptoms
People who are infected with avian flu often suffer symptoms of normal seasonal flu such as fever, headache, fatigue, coughing, sore throat, and aching muscles.

  • Some have complications like eye infections and pneumonia.
  • Symptoms usually show up one to five days after the person is exposed to the virus.
  • People may get worse faster than they would with regular flu.
  • Respiratory distress can be caused by avian flu and can be life-threatening.

If you develop flu symptoms and have had recent close contact with birds in a high-risk country, you might suspect avian flu. But there is no way to know for sure what kind of flu you have until the virus is sampled and tested at a specialized lab.

Taking action

If you think you have avian flu, it's important to alert the authorities. That's because a critical way to control the spread of this virus is to monitor and investigate all cases of infection in people. So call your doctor if you think you have avian flu, or if you have flu symptoms and recently travelled to a country experiencing a bird flu outbreak.

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