influenza or Bird flu
details about Swine flu [H1N1 infection] click here)
A Fact sheet
(In other pages - How Homeopathy was effective and Some reasonable doubts and questions about the false panic)
Clinical picture in birds
Spread of bird flu
Treatment available for birds
Control measures in birds
Clinical picture in infected humans
What to do and not to do?
Why there is so much concern and why there is no need to panic?
The real panic!
Technical aspects of Avian Influenza
Bird flue or Avian Influenza is the latest threat to the peaceful existence to human beings in this earth. As if the other existing threats are not enough!
But bird flue attains significance because all over the media is on a gold rush to harvest maximum fear factor from the public. It seems. The hands of some interested drug mafias may also be considered lurking in the back ground. It is to be particularly significant to note that the drug industry is the number one along with arms in reaping money.
So here are the latest and well proven facts about bird flue for the information of public as well as professionals. (see also some reasonable doubts and questions).
Avian influenza, or "bird flu", is a contagious disease of animals especially birds, caused by particular strains of influenza viruses. They normally infect only birds and, less commonly pigs, cats etc.. While all bird species are thought to be susceptible to infection, domestic poultry flocks like chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys are especially vulnerable to infections that can rapidly reach epidemic proportions. Another interesting factor is that Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them and it causes symptoms and death in domesticated birds only. And when they start affecting the said domesticated birds it is rapidly contagious and very often highly fatal. (For more technical details click here)
Clinical picture in birds
The disease in birds has two forms. The first causes only mild illness, expressed only as ruffled feathers or reduced egg production. A second form is the dangerous one, known as “highly pathogenic avian influenza”. This variety is extremely contagious in birds and rapidly fatal, with a mortality approaching 100%. Birds can even die on the same day of symptoms first appear.
Infected poultry may show the following symptoms and
Sudden death or death after any of the following signs.
There is a general lack of energy and appetite.
Some times swelling of the head, eyelids, combs, wattles and legs is seen.
The wattles and combs are discoloured Purple.
There will be nasal discharge, with or without coughing and sneezing
Most of the times diarrhoea is also seen.
Spread of bird flu
As mentioned the spread is mostly from birds to birds. Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. When susceptible birds have contact with contaminated excretions or surfaces that are contaminated with excretions they become infected. Humans get infected when they are in intimate contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces with virus.
Human to human spread (that is spread from one infected human to another one through sneezing coughing or direct contact etc.) is considered not possible at present. However there is a suspected case of human to human infection in a family in Thailand but the case stopped spreading in the first generation itself. That is the one who got it from an infected human did not cause another second generation of human infections.
Treatment available for birds
There are two aspects to this. One there are no rapid, massive and effective treatment modalities in conventional medicine for birds. Second far more importance is given to the spread of illness to human that birds are considered better controlled (for how see below) than treated. (for available alternatives click here)
Control measures in birds
First and most important control measure is rapid destruction (called “culling” or “stamping out”) of all infected or exposed birds and proper disposal of carcasses. Some times millions of birds are extinguished like this. Proper quarantining and rigorous disinfection of farms are also necessary. Movement restrictions for live poultry as in trade are another important control measure. This is implied both within and between countries to be effective. Vaccination of chicks is also effective.
For disinfection heating (56 degrees C for 3 hours or 60 degrees C for 30 minutes) is best. Common disinfectants, such as formalin and iodine compounds are also found to be working.
The virus survive, at
cool temperatures like in contaminated manure for at least three months. It can
survive for up to four days in water, at 22 degrees C and more than 30 days at 0
degrees C. The virulence of the highly pathogenic form is much high that a
single gram of contaminated manure can contain enough virus to infect 1 million
here for available treatment for birds)
Clinical picture in infected humans
The actual out breaks of human infection in much less. And from the available data it appears that patients developed symptoms ranged from typical flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough, muscle aches, eye infections, and, in several of the fatal cases, severe respiratory distress secondary to viral pneumonia and other complications.
Even though it looks like a common influenza the effectiveness of conventional treatment is in doubt due to several factors. Common antiviral drugs even though clinically effective against influenza A virus strains in otherwise healthy adults and children, but have some limitations in avail flu. Also they have some undesirable side effects and some of these are much expensive and supplies are limited.
even though experience with influenza vaccines is considerable, it is to be
noted that vaccine composition changes each year to match changes in circulating
virus due to antigenic drift. And at least four months is needed to produce a
new vaccine, in significant quantities, capable of conferring protection against
a new virus subtype.
Specific diagnostic tests are those for diagnosing all influenza strains of animals and humans. These are rapid and reliable
It is evident that conventional treatment is not much effective (click here to know why) in flu epidemics or pandemics. Also click this link to know more details of 'how homeopathy was effective in earlier Flu Pandemics'.
Homeopathy offers a much effective treatment against viral infections in general. Also it offers complete cure in almost all infectious illness if there is not much destruction of tissues that is in cases other than advanced pathological changes. It is of greater importance that as homeopathy can start effective treatment based on symptomatology one can start the damage control much earlier before actual diagnosis of bird flu. The only problem being many a cases of possible bird flue (or any other grave or answerless illness) will be completely cured without there is a chance for proper diagnosis and recording the credit to the account of homeopathy. But no good homeopath needs credit but relief to suffering human.
Another heartening news is to animal farmers. Influenza like infection in animals (whether is it chicken, pig or any other animals) can be treated effectively and quickly by homeopathic drugs. It is well proven in many countries that veterinary homeopathy is much more effective over conventional treatment. A similar form of bird flue is treated very well by homeopathic remedies in India for so long. Ayurveda also offers good effective treatment for both avian and human variety of flu. Similar to homeopathy highly effective simple Ayurvedic preparation are in use for bird flu and other animal infections in India for generations.
Tell your 'Vet' about homeopathic treatment and he can contact the local homeopath. They can work together for this purpose. Containing an infection in animals not only prevents a pandemic but also saves the lives of countless number of poor animals from unnecessary death.
The important drugs in
homeopathy that are indicated in bird flu include the following
Aconite, Arnica, Arsenicum alb., Belladonna, Bryonia, Eupatorium per., Hepar sulph., Gelsemium, Kali bich., Mercurius, Nux vomica, Pulsatilla, Phosphorus, Rhustox, Sulphur etc.
Note that these drugs are given in the alphabetical order only. Not in their order of importance or current prevalence. The actual drug prescribed and the potency should be based on individual cases and under the strict supervision of an experienced and qualified homeopath. Also note that homeopathic medicines will not produce any effect if the selection is wrong and the amount of effect may vary with the degree of inaccuracy in the selection of potency and dose. So it is repeated that any treatment must be supervised by an experienced and qualified homeopath.
Another important point to note is that these drugs are derived by the unique symptom similarity method of homeopathy from actual symptoms and signs of bird flu cases. Thus it is appealed that any one having data from fresh cases may please report to Dr. Abdul Gafar so that more number of and most similar drugs can be added to the above list.
It will be reassuring to know that in each season millions of people benefit from homeopathic remedies for influenza, all over the world. And the mortality rate is anything below 0.5% (if at all there is any)! Besides if you are taking homeopathic remedies for flu you will experience a faster cure as below, saving millions of days of manpower in addition to money and mental tension.
If you take Antipyretic drugs (like Paracetamol) the temperature comes down within 30 minutes and shot up again after 4-5 hours. This lasts for about three four days. At the end of which you are free from illness but very tired and will have a bad stomach too. Under homeopathic medication the temperature loose its intensity within two/three hours and decrease gradually to baseline within two days the maximum. On the second/third day you are free from illness and also fresh almost to pre-flu days!
What to do and not to do? (Prophylaxis).
For common public
Avoid direct contact with wild and/or domestic birds esp. poultry. Take particular care in regions where bird flue is reported. Take care to avoid drinking contaminated water. For this the general precaution of safe food/drink habits is enough. Those who are on trekking or wild life safari should keep in mind the contaminated water sources and make provisions for adequate drinking water with them. For those who have back yard poultry farms proper care should be taken in keeping the coup and surroundings clean. Special attention should be paid to disinfect water and feeding pots thoroughly and routinely. Seek advice of your veterinarian immediately on sighting of any signs of illness in the birds and act accordingly.
For commercial farmers
Besides the above measures routine large scale disinfection of the farm is the first step. Proper disposal of droppings and other waste product is also of much importance. In case of any culling dispose of the carcasses also in proper manner. Take particular care to identify early signs of infection in birds and avoid spread to other birds.
For all people
When any symptoms of flu or viral fever is seen in any one please do not panic. Instead go to your family doctor and get the proper treatment. If the family doctor is a homeopath it is far better. Always remember to make sure the treatment is not causing more harm than the illness.
Also note that it is absolutely safe to consume poultry meat and eggs provided they are thoroughly cooked. Ordinary pressure cooking easily destroys the virus. Only handling live affected birds or getting intimate contact with droppings/saliva/secretions of affected birds can give rise to the illness.
is so much concern and why there is no need to panic?
The recent heightened concern is for many reasons. Most – but not all – of the major outbreaks recently reported in Asia have been caused by the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain. It is strongly believed that this strain has a unique capacity to jump the species barrier and cause severe disease, with high mortality, in humans and may cause a pandemic as explained below.
It is known that avian and human influenza viruses can exchange genes when a person is simultaneously infected with viruses from both species. By this process of gene swapping inside the human body a completely new subtype of the influenza virus can be developed. This mutant virus has the advantage that humans would not have the natural immunity against them as they are entirely new. Also existing vaccines too would not be effective against a completely new influenza virus as they are changed each year to match the present circulating strains as said above. Finally when the new virus contains sufficient human genes making it capable to transmit directly from one person to another (rather than from birds to humans) the conditions for the start of a new influenza pandemic will be created. (To know how exactly a super virus is born click here). This assumption attains significance in the light of the great influenza pandemic of 1918–1919, when a completely new influenza virus subtype emerged and spread around the globe, in around 4 to 6 months. Several waves of infection occurred over 2 years, killing an estimated 40–50 million persons. Here an interesting and not much publicized fact is there that homeopathy was much effective in that pandemic.
But as said these are
all only possibilities and not yet realised. And like the repeated ‘dooms days’
predicted by many cults who worship ‘end of the world’ none materialized so far.
See that from December 2003
till date only
265 confirmed cases of human bird flu
infections are reported and out of them only 159 causalities are there
(please see foot note too). Also note
that despite the estimated and predicted toll of millions of death the dreaded SARS caused only a thousand deaths in all!
Another influenza epidemic predicted so much casualty
back also failed to deliver that 'promise'!
Another notable point of argument is this. If there is any chance of the virus mutating to a 'super virus' as expected there is also equal chance of human body getting immunity against it within that time. This is not a far fetched dream. One just looking at the facts can see that 'Thailand' where the infection allegedly initiated (spotted in 2003) and where the most number of confirmed cases occurred so far has the least mortality rate (45.16% only) where as the areas where the infection spotted only in 2005 still has high mortality rates (66% or above, even 75% in Indonesia where the second largest number of confirmed cases are there).
This dose not mean that we can altogether neglect this threat. But simple precautionary measures in the poultry industry itself can curb this to the reasonable rate as happens all the time in the poultry industry. Now the real panic should be about one thing; that is if any such pandemic brake out the current vaccination will not be effective against it?! (click here to know why?)
Another very important reason for the increased alarm is that in viral
infections especially in those of epidemic and pandemic proportions the rate of
fatality is high whether it is a new subtype or an old one. On closer
examination it will become clear that this is in fact due to
selection of drugs and treatment mode. As for example it is well proven
that ‘Paracetamol’ the most freely used antipyretic can cause sever platelet
depletion amounting to death. Ironically that is the single most used agent in
any type of flu world over. Another culprit is ‘Antibiotics’ which can cause
serious liver and kidney damage if used indiscriminately. These are also freely
employed in epidemics and pandemics of flu. Also to be noted is the fact that in
any such situations the panic stricken public consumes heavy doses and dangerous
amounts of these drugs as many of them are available as OTC (legally or not) in
many parts of the world. Interestingly the author has witnessed requests by
learned GPs containing two different brands of Paracetamol preparations in high
doses and two different types of Antibiotics in a single prescription! This may
also happen due to the high pressure GPs are submitted when flocks of public is
crowding OPDs with simple fever and some of them are falling dead. But sadly
this practice will only add to the fatality number and there by the panic index
of public. Another bad thing is that the proper procedure ‘the Antiviral’ agents
are costly, have many side effects and not always available in massive
quantities. (for an
available alternative click here)
Technical aspects of Avian Influenza
There are many types of Flu viruses. Of which type A is the cause for avian flue. Even among this there are several different subtypes depending upon their hemagglutinin [H] and neuraminidase [N] proteins contents. There are 16 different H subtypes and 9 different N subtypes of flu A viruses. So, many different combinations of these are possible and each combination is a different subtype. Like H1N1, H5N3 etc.) Even though all subtypes of flu A viruses can be found in birds the “bird flu” in question is caused by only three subtypes as regards H protein i.e. H5, H9 and H7, and out of them H5 with N1 is the most dangerous posing the threat now (H5N1 subtype). Even that does not cause a 'pandemic' because it cannot cause infection from human to human. For this a peculiar type of "super virus" need to be born by a series of cross infections which are extremely unlikely. (To know how exactly a super virus is born click here)
The spread within and between countries
Farm to farm spread within a country is much easy as large amounts of virus are secreted in bird droppings, contaminating dust and soil. Airborne virus can spread the disease from bird to bird. Besides contaminated equipment, vehicles, feed, cages or clothing – especially shoes – can carry the virus from farm to farm. The virus can also be carried on the feet and bodies of animals, such as rodents, which act as “mechanical vectors” for spreading the disease. Limited evidence suggests that flies can also act as mechanical vectors.
Droppings from infected wild
birds may introduce the virus into both commercial and backyard poultry flocks.
The risk that infection will be transmitted from wild birds to domestic poultry
is greatest where domestic birds roam freely, share a water supply with wild
birds, or use a water supply that might become contaminated by droppings from
infected wild-bird carriers. Also in “wet” markets, where live birds are sold
under crowded and sometimes unsanitary conditions, can be another source of
The disease can spread from country to country through international trade in live poultry. Another important link is migratory birds, including wild waterfowl, sea birds, and shore birds. They can carry the virus for long distances and have, in the past, been implicated in the international spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza.
Bird flu (or swine flu or cat flu or any influenza like infection in animals) is a common illness seen for ages in wild and domestic birds. It attains massive proportions and occasionally may cause human infection due to carelessness from the part of humans itself. Spreading frightening theories and the panic stricken public resorting to extreme measures are the main cause of fatality in almost all cases. With a little common sense and care we can prevent another pandemic. As learned men we owe at least that much to the humanity.
by Dr. Abdul Gafar
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Foot note to
cumulative incidence/death Update.
To the dismay of any one with interests otherwise, much like SARS, Bird Flu also failed miserably to deliver its promise of millions of death. So as of January 2007we are stopping the process of giving any more updates of cumulative incidence/death world wide. If there is any significant change in the cumulative incidence/death in future we will definitely bring you the update. However by clicking here you can go to WHO page which shows the latest cumulative incidence/death toll.
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