Bird Flu

Bird flu occurs due to infection by a type of influenza virus. This condition does not usually affect humans, but when it does develop it can be serious. For a large number of people, the bird flu pandemic has been fatal. Recently, outbreaks of the bird flu epidemic have taken place in Asia, Africa and regions in Europe. People who experience symptoms of the disease usually have had close contact with infected birds. In some cases, the infection has spread from one individual to another. Health experts warn that if the virus responsible for bird flu undergoes mutation and turns into a form that spreads more easily among people, a global bird flu outbreak is possible. Currently research is underway on vaccines that can offer protection from this disease.

Symptoms of Bird Flu

The symptoms of bird flu usually develop about two to five days after infection. In many cases, these symptoms appear similar to those of influenza. Some of the common signs and symptoms of bird flu include:

  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle ache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye infection

It is important to seek medical care immediately if any of the symptoms above are detected. It is also advisable to consult your doctor if you have recently visited an open-air market, farm or region where bird flu is prevalent.

Causes of Bird Flu

Bird flu usually develops in wild waterfowl, but can also spread to domestic chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. The infection spreads due to contact with the feces of infected birds. Secretions from the eyes, nose and mouth of infected birds can also cause the disease to spread. Bird flu is rampant in open-air marketplaces where poultry is sold in unsanitary conditions. This can cause the condition to spread to the other areas of the community as well.

Eating poultry meat is safe and does not cause infection provided that the meat or eggs are cooked properly. The meat should be cooked preferably to 165F while eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk become firm.

The main causes of bird flu are direct contact with infected birds. Exposure to surfaces contaminated by infected saliva or droppings can also place a person at risk for bird flu. In rare cases, bird flu spreads from one individual to another. The reason for such human transmission is not fully known.

Bird flu can lead to the following complications:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Collapse of the lung
  • Pneumonia
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Cardiovascular problems

Bird flu has proved to be fatal for about half of the people affected, but this number is still small since the disease has affected only a few people.

Remedies for Bird Flu

Since several influenza viruses are now resistant to common anti-viral drugs, the use of oseltamivir is recommended for the treatment of bird flu. The drugs must be taken with a couple of days after the symptoms are experienced. These drugs are still in short supply across the world and hence administering them in the initial stages may be difficult. Also due to their low availability, allocating them during a widespread epidemic may pose a challenge.

Bird flu only became better known to the larger public in the last decade, with the reach of the internet and news media. Considering how recent these developments are, there has been inadequate time for extensive research into natural remedies for birdflu. This said, many natural health care enthusiasts claim that there are natural cures that work, but most of these are based on little other than hearsay. Most home remedies for birdflu have not been adequately research, while some are just baseless. This said, it does not hurt to try out some of the more harmless remedies, provided you do not rely on them and underestimate the seriousness of the disease. However it is important to consult a doctor and seek medical treatment for bird flu immediately in case you notice any signs of the infection. While natural treatments that boost immunity would logically help facilitate recovery, not all will work. Here are some tips to help lower the risk of succumbing to the flu or to help with recovery:

  • Green tea has anti-viral properties and restricts the release of the enzyme, neuraminidase, which the bird flu virus requires in order to reproduce. It is advisable to drink about three to six cups of green tea daily.
  • A strong immune system helps to protect the body from various viral infections. Take vitamin C supplements to boost your immunity.
  • To ease nasal congestion, inhale the vapors from a bowl of steaming water as they rise. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water. Cover your head with a towel to prevent the steam from escaping and inhale for about ten minutes. Tea tree oil may also be added to the steaming water. This treatment helps to clear the nasal passages.
  • Add some lemon juice and honey to a couple of cups of hot water. Once it cools slightly, use to gargle. This is greatly helpful in alleviating a sore throat.
  • Sipping on hot herbal teas is another way to relieve congestion, cough and throat irritation.
  • It is important to keep your body warm when you have bird flu. Wrap a blanket or shawl around yourself. You can also generate heat in the body by adding a teaspoon of honey to one ounce of rum and drinking daily.
  • The body needs adequate rest during a viral infection so that it can heal and recover properly. Make sure to get enough rest and sleep every day.
  • To strengthen your body and boost your immune system, eat lots of salads made from fresh vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, onion and garlic. Also eat plenty of fresh fruits like cranberries, apples, oranges and blueberries. This will help to reduce the risk of developing viral infections.
  • Avoid smoking and also stay away from smoke-filled areas. Smoke can worsen breathing problems.
  • Avoid spreading infection by using a disposable tissue or a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid crowded places if you have the infection. It is best to remain indoors until the symptoms subside.
  • Simple exercises such as yoga are beneficial for improving the immune system. Meditation is also a healthy practice which helps to strengthen the body and make it more resistant to illnesses.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water daily. This will help to keep the nasal membranes hydrated as well. You can even add ¼ teaspoon each of salt and baking soda to eight ounces of warm water and sniff the solution into your nose.

Diet for Bird Flu

Recent studies have indicated that probiotics may help to improve immune function which is helpful in protecting the body from bird flu and its serious symptoms. Probiotics are present in yogurt and are referred to as ‘friendly bacteria’ since they aid in digestion and help to fight yeast infections. The studies examined the effects of probiotics on pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. It was found that probiotics has a stabilizing effect on the cytokines thus preventing the immune system from over-reacting. Probiotics are commonly found in yogurt and other foods. It is advisable to opt for fortified yogurt as it also contains substantial amounts of vitamin D which helps to protect you from various types of influenza.

Since prevention plays an important role in combating bird flu, you need to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. This will help to enhance your immunity. Research indicates that the nutrients vitamin C, quercetin, selenium along with certain other immunity-boosting nutrients help to protect the body from the bird flu virus. These nutrients are found in large amounts in a plant-based diet. You can also add leafy vegetables, fresh juices and citrus fruits to the daily diet since they are valuable sources of pro-immunity nutrients which protect from viral infection.

Suggestions for Bird Flu

Here are some precautionary measures which help to prevent bird flu infection:

  • Maintain Good Hygiene: Always wash your hands before or while handling food and after going to the toilet. Keep all cooking equipment and surfaces clean and sanitized. The cooking area must be protected from insects and other animals.
  • Handle Food Properly: It is important to keep raw poultry, fish and meat separate from other foods. Use separate cooking equipment for these foods. You can prevent contact between various foods by storing them separately in containers. Raw poultry and meat may contain bacteria and viruses that can spread to other foods while cooking and storage. The juices of such foods may also contain harmful microorganisms.
  • Cook Thoroughly: Ensure that poultry, seafood, meat and eggs are cooked thoroughly. Stews and soups should be boiled until them attain a temperature of 70 degrees C. Poultry and meat should be cooked until the juices run clear. You can even use a thermometer to check if foods are cooked properly.
  • Stores Foods at a Safe Temperature: Avoid keeping cooked foods at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. Stores all cooked foods in the refrigerator. However avoid keeping foods refrigerated for too long. Cooked food should be at a piping hot temperature before serving. Avoid thawing frozen food at room temperature.
  • Use Safe Water: Water may contain harmful microorganisms and hence it is important to use only safe water at all times.
  • Use Safe Raw Materials while Cooking: Choose fresh foods that are not damaged in any way. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating. Avoid using foods beyond their expiry date. Opt for pasteurized milk and dairy products.


  1. Anti-influenza virus activity of green tea by-products in vitro and efficacy against influenza virus infection in chickens. Lee HJ, Lee YN, Youn HN, Lee DH, Kwak JH, Seong BL, Lee JB, Park SY, Choi IS, Song CS Poult Sci. 2012 Jan; 91(1):66-73.