Avian Flu, Vaccinations, Diagnoses, and Forensic Medicine


With the number of news items that have been recorded as of late regarding Avian Flu, the responsibilities of nurses to detect and aid in the diagnosis of such a pandemic seems inevitable.

After reviewing some of the stories from the Google New Feed that is linked above, I decided to answer a few questions to provide some answers regarding the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of Avian Flu as it relates to the role of nursing within any medical or social setting.

Q. What sort of symptoms may lead you to believe that Avian Flu is one possible cause of an affliction that is presenting?

A. Symptoms of avian influenza in humans are vague and not easily discernable from normal flu-like symptoms. They include fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Symptoms can progress to pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases and other severe and life-threatening complications. A laboratory test is required for confirmation of the avian flu virus.

Q. How likely do you believe it is that a vaccine can be applied to chickens and other birds that will actually slow the spread of these types of viruses? Why?

A. I feel that the likely-hood of mass immunizing all domestic birds is minimal. Other birds such as ducks and turkeys are also susceptible to this virus. Effective immunization would be near impossible.

Q. Although there have only been 152 cases of Avian Flu transmitted to humans as of yet according to WHO, what are the chances in your opinion that the virus could mutate into an easily transmissible between humans strain?

A. My feeling is that we will not have a pandemic avian flu. I believe, possible naively that our systems are in place and we are prepared to quarantine infected persons effectively. I may be jaded by the fact that I was acutely involved in Smallpox and SARS preparedness preparations within my local community. Neither of these issues came to fruition despite dire warnings.

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