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What are the symptoms of the avian flu? How many confirmed cases are there?

Bird flu was found in an Indiana Turkey farm leading to a mass cull of over 30,000 birds, but the disease is not only dangerous for animals.

Mulard ducks are pictured at a poultry farm in Montsoue, France, January 12, 2017, as France continues a massive cull of ducks in regions affected by a severe outbreak of bird flu.
Regis DuvignauReuters

Covid-19 has been dominating the disease headlines, but another disease, bird flu, has been making the news in recent days. The US Department of Agriculture has detected the virus in birds in the US, leading to culling of thousands of infected animals.

While it is difficult to infect humans, it is possible. Despite there being just four infections in the US since 2002, people should be aware of the dangers posed by said birds. Around the world, there have been at least 456 human deaths and 864 infections in the same time period, according to the World Health Organization.

How is it spread?

Bird flu is spread by close contact with an infected bird, either dead or alive. This includes touching infected birds, touching droppings or bedding, and killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking.

Markets where live birds are sold can also be a hiding place for bird flu. Avoid visiting these markets if you're concerned about the spread of the flu.

The main symptoms of bird flu can appear very quickly and include:

  • a very high temperature or feeling hot or shivery
  • aching muscles
  • headache
  • a cough or shortness of breath

The main symptoms of bird flu can appear very quickly and include:

  • diarrhoea
  • sickness
  • stomach pain
  • chest pain
  • bleeding from the nose and gums
  • conjunctivitis

It usually takes 3 to 5 days for the first symptoms to appear after you've been infected.

What is the current situation?

More than 240,000 chickens in one food plant in Kentucky were fund to be carrying bird flu on Monday. Since 2015 more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in the US have been killed by the disease.

These outbreaks have led to big chicken importers like China from stopping the animals being imported into the country. The US is the world's largest producer of poultry meat in the world.