Avian Flu (Bird Flu) Basic Facts. UV Sterilization of Airborne Bird
Recently, many articles have appeared in the media concerning the avian
flu (bird flu) and the virtual possibility of a flu pandemic. It is a well
known fact that the avian flu virus spreads only among birds and the main
scare is that the virus could jump the species barrier and endanger the
health of humans. A number of people in Asia have already been infected with
the bird flu virus and some of the cases were fatal.
Can UV help against spreading of the bird flu? It is proven that all viruses
are susceptible to germicidal UV and require relatively low UV dosages for
complete eradication. The influenza virus needs a dose of 6,600µW/cm˛ UV for
100% kill. The bird flu virus is similar to the regular flu virus. This
means that a UV dose of approximately 10,000µW/cm˛ will effectively
eradicate the virus.
Common methods for avoiding the regular flu include hand washing, avoiding
contact with infected persons, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing.
These measures are preventing transfer of the virus from person to person.
The transfer could be direct or indirect through inhaling airborne viruses.
Germicidal UV fixtures in homes, offices, schools, hospitals and
laboratories can perform similar preventive functions against airborne flu
virus. UV can constantly wash the indoor air and reduce or eliminate the
spread of the virus. This will not prevent a person from getting sick from
eating infected poultry or getting infected through a direct contact but
will eliminate one of the ways of transmission of the flu.
In an interview Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases stated that the United States is equally or
better prepared for a pandemic flu than any other country but there is still
not enough vaccine produced. He advises the public to read the flu
guidelines on the CDC website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following Key
Facts About Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) and Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus
What is avian influenza (bird flu)?
Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses.
These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry
the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them.
However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some
domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and
Do bird flu viruses infect humans?
Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human
infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997.
What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?
Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical flu-like symptoms
(fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia,
severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other
severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of bird flu may
depend on which virus caused the infection.
How does bird flu spread?
Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces.
Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated
excretions or surfaces that are contaminated with excretions. It is believed
that most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from contact
with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. The spread of avian
influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very
rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one
How is bird flu in humans treated?
Studies done in laboratories suggest that the prescription medicines
approved for human flu viruses should work in preventing bird flu infection
in humans. However, flu viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so
these medications may not always work. Additional studies are needed to
prove the effectiveness of these medicines.
What is an avian influenza A (H5N1) virus?
Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called “H5N1 virus” – is an influenza A
virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds. It was first isolated from birds
(terns) in South Africa in 1961. Like all bird flu viruses, H5N1 virus
circulates among birds worldwide, is very contagious among birds, and can be
So far, spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been rare and has not
continued beyond one person. However, because all influenza viruses have the
ability to change, scientists are concerned that the H5N1 virus one day
could be able to infect humans and spread easily from one person to another.
Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no
immune protection against them in the human population. If the H5N1 virus
were able to infect people and spread easily from person to person, an
influenza pandemic (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin. No one can
predict when a pandemic might occur. However, experts from around the world
are watching the H5N1 situation in Asia very closely and are preparing for
the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily and widely
from person to person.
What is the risk to people in the United States from the H5N1 bird flu
outbreak in Asia and Europe?
The current risk to Americans from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia is
low. The strain of H5N1 virus found in Asia and Europe has not been found in
the United States. There have been no human cases of H5N1 flu in the United
States. It is possible that travelers returning from affected countries in
Asia could be infected if they were exposed to the virus. Since February
2004, medical and public health personnel have been watching closely to find
any such cases.
Visit the CDC website for the complete text: