TALLINN – According to the Estonian Health Board, currently available epidemiological and virologic evidence suggests that the influenza A virus subtype H5N8 has not acquired the potential for persistent human-to-human transmission and is therefore unlikely to spread.
So far, humans have been infected with bird flu only by contact with a sick bird, spokespeople for the Health Board said.
"So far, it has not been registered in Estonia that the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus can also spread from person to person, but this cannot be completely ruled out," Olga Sadikova, chief specialist at the flu center of the Health Board, said. She added that there is a recommendation not to travel to areas at risk of bird flu, contact with birds should still be avoided and it is certainly not worth touching dead birds.
Sadikova said that special care should be taken by people who come into contact with birds -- for example, poultry farmers and handlers should use protective equipment, including respirators, gloves and goggles.
People who have been in contact with sick poultry or wild birds and their faeces must monitor their health for ten days and a doctor must be consulted immediately if they develop inflammation of the eye or flu-like symptoms, such as fever above 38 degrees Celsius.
Symptoms of bird flu in humans include high fever; headache, muscle ache or sore throat; cough and runny nose; difficulty breathing; conjunctivitis and diarrhea. A more serious complication is pneumonia, which can be accompanied by respiratory distress syndrome.