|Birds are being blamed for the spread of some global flu
What if avian flu or bird flu arrived sooner than
expected in the North West?
Scientists say millions of people could
be killed by a flu pandemic, but the advice from health officials in the North
West is, "Don't go to hospital or the doctors".
With the prospect
of little or no vaccine, medical centres could be overwhelmed by patients they
Pandemics of influenza have swept the world from time
throughout history, three times in the last century.
fear a global epidemic of deadly flu in humans will strike, and bird flu is giving
cause for particular concern
There are 15 different strains of the virus,
but it is the H5N1 strain which is infecting humans and causing high death rates.
type of flu is highly contagious and has also killed dozens of people since re-emerging
in South East Asia in 2003.
Spread by birds, there is not yet a definitive
vaccine, but prototypes which offer protection against the H5N1 strain are being
However anti-viral drugs, which are already available, may help
limit symptoms and reduce the chances the disease will spread.
|Flu attack? Could the virus spread to humans in the UK?|
These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds world-wide
carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them.
Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University recently told BBC News
Online that, "The virus is carried in the chicken's gut.
would have to dry out the chicken meat and would have to sniff the carcass to
be at any risk. But even then, it would be very hard to become infected."
Experts say that the UK is at "very low risk" of developing the
disease at present.
Although bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans,
several cases of human infection have occurred since 1997.
Symptoms in humans
include typical flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, muscle aches, severe
respiratory diseases and coughs.
It is thought that the majority
of human bird flu infections resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated
Inside Out's Andy Johnson asks how would we cope if bird
flu came to the North West of England, and asks if we are we prepared for a flu
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