Since it was discovered in 1997, the bird flu has only infected a relatively low number of persons, statistics showing that approximately 250 documented cases were found up to this day. During this time period and by monitoring these cases, scientists were able to form an opinion on how the bird flu manifests itself and whether or not it has symptomatic differences to other forms of flu.
First of all, it should be noted that the bird flu shares a lot of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“common symptomsÃ¢â‚¬Â attributed to other flu viruses. This includes heavy muscle aching, throat soreness, coughing, eye irritation, chest pains, high fever, a general state of weakness and nausea and possibly vomiting.
The main difference pointed out by recent studies is that bird flu symptoms are a lot more concentrated in nature and they are more efficient in damaging the body. The speed at which they do so is also increased when compared to a normal case of flu. In addition, digestive disturbances, which are rarely visible in simple flu cases, are amplified with bird flu, diarrhea and constipation being common symptoms.
It is well known that most flu viruses are not necessarily dangerous on their own, but they lead to potentially lethal conditions such as pneumonias, high fevers and respiratory problems.
One symptom and effect of the bird flu is the SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. The SARS is an atypical pneumonia often related to bird flu, however it is not necessarily the effect of the flu virus. SARS can also be transmitted on its own and in 2003 and the World was at the brink of a SARS outbreak, which was fortunately quarantined.
The short amount of time the bird flu could be studied upon as well as the reduced number of human infections have made it hard for scientists to set some standards for the diseases symptoms. For this reason, the bird flu continues to have some extremely unexpected symptoms and effects.
One case in particular has caused turmoil in the medical community, as a boy infected by H5N1 experienced diarrhea and a few other bird flu symptoms and quickly fell into a coma, although he didnt develop respiratory or flu like complications. The suddenness and high level of lethality of this particular case shows how unpredictable the virus really is.
The H5N1 virus responsible for the bird flu has also been proven to have some of the symptoms and effects of the H1N1 that caused the Spanish Flu of 1918 (one of the deadliest pandemics known to mankind). Although at a reduced rate, H5N1 can cause cytokine storms which were mostly related to the H1N1 until now. These cytokine storms quickly affect human tissue and vital organs and were the cause of over 40 million deaths during the Spanish Flu.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the H5N1 still hasnt reached a final form and keeps mutating with each flu season. For this reason, it is expected that new symptoms will appear and some of the ones it produces now may be lost.