AvianInfluenza and Population Health
AvianInfluenza and Population Health
Diseasesthat affect animals are mostly perceived to be of little harm tohuman beings. However, that has been proven to be not the case withAvian Influenza, which is commonly known as ‘bird flu.’ Accordingto the World Health Organization (WHO) (2016), avian flu is acontagious disease caused by the “Influenza A viruses” andaffects mostly birds, and, in some cases, spreads into mammals, suchas pigs. The virus is known to be specific on the type of speciesthat it affects but, in some cases, it has been known to crossboundaries and spread to other mammals and human beings (WHO, 2016).Therefore, by discussing avian influenza in details, especially inthe process that it spreads to the human population, it will be clearthat this is a pandemic that needs urgent response just like it hasbeen discovered in various parts of the world during the recent past.
AHRQSite Data on Avian Influenza
Thedata given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)confirms that avian flu-related viruses do not infect humanpopulation. However, in the recent past, sporadic human infectionswith the flu have been recorded. The viruses are commonly detected invarious species of wild birds around the world with some outbreaksbeing registered in poultry. Due to the constant migration of wildbirds from one geographic region to another, the flu has found entryinto North America. The existence of the viruses in poultry hascontributed to its spreading into the human population. Indeed, it isa factor that has led to illness and death among people in Asia,Africa, Europe, the Pacific regions and recently North America(Animal Production and Health Division, 2016).
Moreover,it has been reported by the World Organization for Animal Health(OIE) that since 1997, the United States has had sporadic pathogenicavian flu outbreaks of H5 or H7 strains only. The highly pathogenicavian flu has, however, been diagnosed in chicken though no humaninfections have been reported. The site gives reports of variouspoultry and human infections that have occurred over the years sincethe early 2000s. The infections were spotted amongst people who wereinvolved with handling poultry, which indicates that the source ofinfection was the animals they kept. In fact, of all the incidencesthat were reported both in North America and Canada, treatment wasgiven before human-to-human transmission could occur (CDC, 2016).
Thehighly pathogenic avian (HPAI) flu H5 has been reported only inpoultry and wild birds since the year 2014. In spite of that, nohuman infections have been reported. However, concerns remain on theissue since there has been human infection with this strain of thevirus in other parts of the world where it has not only led toillnesses but also caused death (CDC, 2016).
Interpretationof Data and Critical Appraisal of Statistics
Thegiven data indicates that human infections in the form of bird fluusually happen once a person is in contact with the virus, which iseither present in the air or on an object. Therefore, breathing in ortouching the virus and touching their mouth, nose or eyes causes thetransmission. Due to the easy treatment nature of the identifiedcases, it can be concluded that the flu infection can either be mildor severe. The low pathogenic avian flu has been recorded to have thehigher rates of human infection than the highly pathogenic strain ofthe virus whose risk factor is estimated to be low.
Furthermore,concerns have been raised that the cases of infection with the HPAIin the United States can arise since it has been reported in otherparts of the world. That notion means that the concentration is onminimizing the risk of transfer. At the moment, reports show thathigh contact with infected birds may increase the risk of humaninfection, and, therefore, the population has to stay conscious aboutthe health of the birds that they handle.
NursingLeadership Approaches to the Issue
Avianinfluenza forms a category of diseases that are caused by varioustypes of viruses with some being more severe than others. The strainthat is responsible for this viral infection is the type ‘A’virus, which causes diseases that affect humans and birds. Theviruses that cause avian flu can be divided further into eitherhighly or lowly pathogenic depending on the ability to cause diseasein birds. The lowly pathogenic possess less risk to birds than thehighly pathogenic, which has been known to cause death. Research oninfluenza viruses indicates that there are more subtypes, which arebased on two protein types haemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N).Under the H proteins, there are 16 types while the N has nine types,which all occur in varying combinations.
Variouscombinations give rise to a different type of avian influenza wherethe two categories, H5 and H7, are known to contain pathogenicviruses, though not all of them are under that category. Currentconcerns are, however, on H5N1, which is known to be highlypathogenic and has caused high death rates in birds and some mammalsin various regions of the world. The rate of mortality amongst birdsinfected by H5N1 is very high with death occurring as fast as 48hours after being infected. Indeed, this is alarming and would befatal if it affected human populations. The risk of infectionincreases where humans have higher contact with the infected birds.
Consequently,those who have been diagnosed with the H5N1 infection in regions ofAsia, Africa, and Europe have led to the conclusion that the flu hashad the highest number of deaths reported and severe illness forthose who survive. Though the disease has a low rate of transmissionfrom human to human, concern is that if left uncontrolled, the virusmay change over time and become more easily transmittable.Subsequently, that may cause more fatalities.
Dueto the means of transmission of the avian flu, one of the proposedinterventions that are meant to prevent infection is that peopleshould avoid contact with sources of exposure at all times. The ideameans that contact with infected poultry has to be avoided at alltimes since the animals shed the virus through their saliva,feathers, and droppings that expose handlers to infection. The WorldHealth Organization suggests that poultry handlers and those whorespond to outbreaks follow the set biosecurity instructions and useproper personal protective equipment (WHO, 2016). They are alsoadvised to ensure proper hygiene to avoid contamination with thevirus.
Additionally,for those handling cases related to the highly pathogenic strain ofthe virus, guidelines given by the CDC and WHO should be followed toensure safety. The procedures include vaccination and antiviralmedication against the virus. The same measures are highly advisedfor those handling the lower pathogenic strain to avoid infection(WHO, 2016). The vaccination, however, does not prevent disease butserves to reduce the risk of being co-infected.
Causesand Practice Initiatives
Researchon how the disease is transmitted indicates that avian flu can betransmitted through contact with infected poultry and any secretionsfrom them. Human infection comes in through handling of the animals,which may be through the caring process or slaughtering the infectedones. Unlike other forms of flues, the avian one is spread throughthe movement of the poultry, products, people, and vehicles that havecontact with the virus (Department of Health, 2016).
Impactof the Program
Throughthe recognition that the flu is transmitted from exposure of infectedpoultry to humans, the government has managed to come up withsolutions related to preventing this from happening. In fact, toprotect the public from the avian flu, restrictions have been placedon the import of birds from countries that have had cases of thedisease (Fournié et al., 2013). Moreover, further monitoring hasbeen put in place to ensure that the poultry industry is constantlychecked for any infections that may spread into the human population.Though there are antiviral drugs for the virus, there are no vaccinesthat have been provided for the general population.
Evaluationof the Intervention
Dueto the risk of transmission of bird flu to humans, especially inpoultry, the most implemented form of intervention has been ensuringthat contact between human populations and infected birds is reduced(Fournié et al., 2013). Restricting imports of birds and poultryfrom countries that have recorded infections of influenza has servedto lessen the number of birds that have been reported to have thedisease in the United States. At the same rate, monitoring birds thatare already being bred for infection has helped reduce the rate ofspread since handlers take necessary measures, which reduce caseswithout knowledge (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy,2013). Finally, using personal protective equipment when handlinginfected poultry has significantly reduced the risk of contact withthe viral infection.
Throughevidence-based research, it is clear that avian influenza possesses arisk to the human population especially with the H5N7 strain of thevirus, which has proven to be fatal when transmitted to people. Thehighest level of risk is further reported to be amongst thoseinvolved with the handling of birds, especially those that aredomesticated, which may be infected with the flu. In an attempt toreduce the risk of infection, restrictions have been placed on birdimports from countries that have had cases of the flu. Throughreduced contact with the infected animals, wearing personalprotective equipment, and taking vaccinations, it is expected thatthe rate of transmission will be reduced over time. At the moment,there are no vaccinations available for the public human populationagainst the H5N7 flu.
AnimalProduction and Health Division. (2016). Avian influenza: Question andanswers. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/avianflu/en/qanda.html
Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2016). Information onavian influenza. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/index.htm
Centerfor Infectious Disease Research and Policy. (2013). Avian influenza(bird flu): Implications for human disease. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/infectious-diseases-topics/avian-influenza-bird-flu
Departmentof Health. (2016). Avian influenza (avian flu, bird flu). Retrievedfrom https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/avian/
Fournié,G., Guitian, J., Desvaux, S., Cuong, V. C., Pfeiffer, D. U.,Mangtani, P., & Ghani, A. C. (2013). Interventions for avianinfluenza A (H5N1) risk management in live bird marketnetworks. Proceedingsof the National Academy of Sciences, 110(22),9177-9182.
WorldHealth Organization (WHO). (2016). Avian and other zoonoticinfluenza. Retrieved fromhttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/