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Bird Flu

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

A special type (H5N1) of bird flu spreads across the world among birds and can – in very rare cases – infect people. aAlot of people have got infected and died. Bird flu cannot infect from person to person. I you follow the recommendations below, your risk of becoming infected with bird flu is insignificantly small. If you have been into close contact with ill or dead birds and you within 10 days have a fever of more than 38°C, you should seek a doctor.


Influenza with birds has been known for many years, without it causing any reason to worry or special attention in the media. There are several conditions that make the discussed bird flu H5N1 a reason to worry:

H5N1 spreads across large parts of the world among birds.H5N1 can be transmitted from birds to people and this has lead to several deaths.

However, the biggest worry is that H5N1 – over time – can evolve so that it can transmit from person to person. Luckily, this has NOT happened.

H5N1 influenza with birds appears to becoming a global epidemic. H5N1-type strikes both tame (chicken) and wild (web-footed and wading birds) birds, however, also for example cats can become infected. Direct contagion to people from birds occurs. This means that a lot of people have become ill and have died. However, it is only a very small proportion of those people who has been into contact with ill or dead birds that has become infected. Therefore, the risk of getting infected with bird flu H5N1 is very small.

Bird flu only infects through close contact, typically, when you touch an ill/dead bird or its droppings. The risk of becoming infected by other animals (cats) is extremely low.

The symptoms of H5N1 bird flu with people are the same as with a normal influenza. Chills, quick rise in temperature to 39 to 40°C, strong headache, pains everywhere and pain when moving the eyes, together with hoarseness and dry cough.

In the case of an ordinary flu, the ill recovers in the course of 5 to 7 days but with bird flu the illness lasts and can lead to death of the ill person.

Bird flu virus is killed by soap. Washing the hands is therefore very important to prevent contagion.

Recommendations to avoid contagion with bird flu:

Do not touch ill or dead birds.Explain to children not to touch or play with ill or dead birds.If you have to remove a dead bird, use disposable gloves. Put the bird into a plastic bag. Throw the bag into the garbage or bury it. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap.If you have stepped on a dead bird, wash the footwear thoroughly with soap.If clothes have been into contact with a dead bird, wash it immediately.

Useful facts about bird flu H5N1:

The risk of infection from birds to people is very, very small – even in the case of close contact.The risk of infection from cats to people is extremely low.H5N1 does not infect from person to person.Infection to people only happens in the case of close contact, typically when you touch an ill or dead bird.If you accidentally touch an ill or dead bird, you can very easily avoid infection.Poultry and eggs from healthy animals that are cooked welldone or boiled, you can eat without any risk.

Click here to assess the sick.


Bird flu H5N1 can both be prevented and treated. A preparation (Tamiflu) prevents the spreading of bird flu with people. There is also a vaccination against H5N1 bird flu.

What can you do?

If you accidentally touch an ill or dead bird you should follow the recommendations mentioned above.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If you have been into close contact with ill or dead birds and you within 10 days have a fever of more than 38°C.

Contact the doctor immediately

If you have been into close contact with ill dead birds and you within 10 days have a fever of more than 38°C.