What Is Avian Influenza
Influenza, commonly called “the flu”, is a contagious disease caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract including nose, throat, and lungs. Many varieties of influenza viruses exist. Some viruses infect only humans, others only birds, pigs or dogs. Some can infect more than one mammal . In birds, this disease is called avian influenza or the “bird flu”.
Avian influenza has been around for over 100 years. It was first reported as “fowl plague” in 1878 when it caused a lot of deaths in chickens in Italy.
Avian flu can affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive, or nervous systems in many kinds of birds. The earliest signs of infection in chickens are a loss of appetite and a decrease in egg production. Symptoms of avian flu can range widely from mild illness to a highly infectious disease with up to 100% mortality. Some wild birds and waterfowl can carry the virus without showing signs of infection. Pigeons appear resistant to the infection. Domestic chickens are very susceptible to influenza infections which can easily spread to other chickens and quickly turn into epidemics .
NOTE: For information about the common flu in humans, please see the OSH Answers Influenza.
The Reason For The Season: Why Flu Strikes In Winter
Did you get your flu shot? If your friends are anything like mine, you heard this question at least a dozen times before Thanksgiving. You probably got your fair share of disdainful looks too, if you answered No. But why are we worried about getting the flu shot now and not in May? Why is there a flu season at all? After all, what does a virus living in a host who provides a dependable, cozy incubation chamber of 98°F, care whether it is freezing and snowy outside or warm and sunny? This question has bothered people for a long time, but only recently have we begun to understand the answer.
Additional Tips For Killing Bacteria In Water
If you dont have ready access to a heat source, there are other things that you can do to kill bacteria in water. For example, you can use household bleach to disinfect water by following these steps:
Water disinfection tablets are also commercially available. If you choose to use these, be sure to carefully follow the instructions provided on the product label.
Some types of bacteria can be a potential cause of food poisoning. Its estimated that 1 in 6 Americans becomes ill with food poisoning every year. Some common foods associated with bacterial food poisoning include:
- raw or undercooked poultry
- raw or undercooked meats
- raw or undercooked seafood and shellfish
- fresh produce
- unpasteurized dairy products
There are several different ways that you can be exposed to pathogenic bacteria in or on foods. Some examples include:
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What Temperature Can Kill The New Coronavirus
Its known that exposure to high temperatures can kill coronaviruses. In fact, inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces speeds up as temperature and humidity increase.
However, the exact temperature and time it takes to kill the virus can vary depending on various factors. These can include things like the amount of virus thats present as well as the surface type.
Its important to keep this point in mind as we review some of the research into this topic.
To estimate the temperature that could kill SARS-CoV-2, one group of researchers looked into the effect of temperature on other coronaviruses. One of these viruses was SARS-CoV, which causes SARS and is closely related to SARS-CoV-2.
Based off the data, the researchers estimated that most coronaviruses would be almost completely killed after exposure to temperatures of 65°C or higher for longer than 3 minutes. The researchers also noted that:
- For temperatures lower than 65°C , a longer exposure time should be used. For example, the coronavirus may need to be exposed to temperatures of between 50 and 55°C for 20 minutes to be killed.
- To ensure that all coronavirus particles are killed, it may be beneficial to increase the temperature by 10°C . This would mean heating the virus to 75°C for at least 3 minutes.
This recommendation is generally in line with observations from other studies on this topic:
Should I Wear A Facemask
What studies say
Anytime you walk into a public place, you are breathing in a fine mist of other peoples coughs and sneezes which can hang around in the air for days. Face masks are a common precaution to stop you breathing in the germs but do they work? To find out, one Australian study targeted the families of people turning up at hospital with influenza. Relatives who wore surgical masks were 80% less likely to become infected themselves.
Although later papers have mostly confirmed the results, it seems that it is only effective alongside hand-washing and generally good hygiene. Otherwise, its a little like locking all your windows while leaving the front door wide open you are missing the most obvious line of defence.
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A Recent Analysis Suggests That This Pandemic Coronavirus Will Be Less Sensitive To The Weather Than Many Hope
His computer models certainly seem to match the pattern of outbreaks around the world, with the highest number of cases outside of the tropics.
Araújo believes that if Covid-19 shares a similar sensitivity to temperature and humidity, it could mean cases of coronavirus will flare up at different times around the world.
It is reasonable to expect the two viruses will share similar behaviour, he says. But this is not a one-variable equation. The virus spreads from human to human. The more humans at any given place and the more they get into contact with each other, the more infections there will be. Their behaviour is key to understanding the propagation of the virus.
A study from the University of Maryland early in the pandemic showed that the virus has spread most in cities and regions of the world where average temperatures have been around 5-11C and relative humidity has been low.
But there have been considerable numbers of cases in tropical regions, too as the pandemic has worn on. An analysis of the spread of the virus in Asia by researchers at Harvard Medical School suggests that this pandemic coronavirus will be less sensitive to the weather than many hope.
Laboratory research and computer modelling suggest Covid-19 will be less able to survive in warm and humid conditions
Cold Water And The Human Body
You might still be tempted to use cold water to help disinfect yourself, but cold water can be dangerous for people. It’s certainly safe and just as sanitary as using warm water to use cold tap water to wash your hands. Keep in mind that most germs like cold and flu viruses are only contagious on your skin for about 20 minutes, so excessive washing isn’t necessary. According to the National Center for Cold Water Safety, any water below 70 degrees Fahrenheit can be dangerous to people, especially if you are submerged in it for a long time. The cold shock of the water can cause you to lose control of your breathing.
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What Should I Do When Flu Symptoms Hit
Even though there’s no natural cure for flu, you can manage symptoms with common sense. Go ahead and pamper yourself a bit while youre at it.
Do it within 48 hours after symptoms start. Ask about antiviral drugs. They help ease symptoms and may shorten your illness if you take them early enough. Let them know if you have a chronic condition like heart disease, diabetes, COPD, asthma, or HIV. Check back in if your symptoms dont get better after about 10 days.
Get lots of rest. Your body needs extra downtime to fight the viral infection. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of shuteye a night.
Drink plenty of fluids. You need lots of liquids when you have a fever.
Breathe hot air. Hang out in a steamy shower or cover your head with a towel and hold it over a sinkful of hot water to ease dry throats and nasal passages.
Dont take antibiotics. They can’t fight the flu virus.
Eat healthy. Good food keeps your immune system in the fight.
Don’t smoke. You’ll have a hard enough time breathing as it is.
Keep the flu to yourself. Stay away from family members, colleagues, and friends. Youre contagious 1 day before symptoms start and for 5-7 days after symptoms start.
How Long Are Cold And Flu Viruses Infectious
Theres not a lot of rigorous data on this question, which is probably why theres also a lot of confusion.
Prior to this decade, only a handful of studies looked at how long flu viruses retain their infectiousness on common surfaces. A 1982 study found influenza A remained contagious up to 48 hours on hard plastic or stainless steel, while a 2008 publication found these viruses stayed infectious for up to three days on Swiss bank notes.
Influenza viruses may actually have a much shorter infectious lifespan, based on more recent work by virologist Dr. Jane Greatorex at Public Health England. In a 2011 study, her team took two strains of influenza A and analyzed how long they remained infectiousness on a variety of common surfaces. After nine hours, viable viruses were no longer found on most non-porous metal and plastic surfaces, such as aluminum and computer keyboards. On porous items, like soft toys, clothes and wooden surfaces, viable viruses disappeared after four hours.
Most viruses that cause colds and flus remain contagious on non-porous surfaces like computer keyboards longer than porous surfaces like fabric and Kleenex. Photo by strixcode/Adobe Stock
Because common colds are caused by a plethora of viruses, research on surface infectious rates are harder to nail down. In general, most are no longer dangerous after 24 hours, and their ability to infect dissipates faster on porous materials like facial tissues.
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Freezing Temperatures Don’t Kill Germs It Just Slows Them Down
It’s a common misconception that freezing food kills bacteria. While it ‘slows down’ the bacteria and makes them dormant, the bacteria will begin to multiply again when it’s brought back to room temperature.
E.coli, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning, is an example of a bacteria that doesn’t die when frozen but is ‘inactive’ until brought back to room temperature. This is why cooking food to a proper temperature is important, and the FDA recommends thawing foods in the fridge, too, so that even when the food defrosts, it still doesn’t enter the room temperature danger zone.
“Some sensitive germs will die when frozen,” says Trivedi. “However, many pathogens will start reproducing when thawed and temperatures start to increase.”
While freezing will keep food unspoiled for longer and prevent bacteria growth, it still needs to be properly handled once it’s thawed. Make sure you’re storing and cooking food at proper temperatures and remember that the best way to get rid of germs in day-to-day life is by washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
How The Dryer Affects Germs
Germs like bacteria and viruses can live on clothing for longer than you may think. For example, the flu virus can survive 8-12 hours on fabric. However, this will vary, and different viruses live for different amounts of time depending on the type of fabric.
Since you likely don’t know what germs you’ve come in contact with and how long they could be living on your clothes, it’s best to regularly wash and then dry them, says Daniel M. Pastula, MD, MHS, Neuro-infectious disease expert at University of Colorado Health.
That’s because some bacteria and viruses thrive in moist environments. So when you thoroughly dry your laundry, you’ll be reducing the risk of bacterial or viral growth on your clothes. Pastula also stresses that washing and drying will not kill 100% of the germs on your clothes.
The main point is to reduce the number of harmful microbes to a tiny amount that’s unlikely to cause infection. Both Pastula and Sinclair advise against just throwing clothing in the dryer without washing it first in hopes of sanitizing it. Wash your clothes first, and then dry them.
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Can People Get Avian Influenza
Avian influenza viruses do not usually infect people. Most cases of infection in people are believed to be the result of direct contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. Two lineages â H5N1 and H7N9 â have been responsible for most human illnesses worldwide to date.
Among all the avian influenza viruses that have caused illness in people, the subtype H5N1 has been associated with very serious illnesses and death. Health Canada states that although human infections with this virus are rare, people who do become infected can become seriously ill and may die.
High Heat Disarms Coronavirus In Less Than A Second
Arum Han, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A& M University, and his collaborators have designed an experimental system that shows exposure of coronavirus to a very high temperature, even if applied for less than a second, can be sufficient to neutralize the virus so that it can no longer infect another human host.
Applying heat to neutralize COVID-19 has been demonstrated before, but in previous studies temperatures were applied from anywhere from one to 20 minutes. This length of time is not a practical solution, as applying heat for a long period of time is both difficult and costly. Han and his team have now demonstrated that heat treatment for less than a second completely inactivates the coronavirus providing a possible solution to mitigating the ongoing spread of COVID-19, particularly through long-range airborne transmission.
The Medistar Corporation approached leadership and researchers from the College of Engineering in the spring of 2020 to collaborate and explore the possibility of applying heat for a short amount of time to kill COVID-19. Soon after, Han and his team got to work, and built a system to investigate the feasibility of such a procedure.
Han said if the solution is heated to nearly 72 degrees Celsius for about half a second, it can reduce the virus titer, or quantity of the virus in the solution, by 100,000 times which is sufficient to neutralize the virus and prevent transmission.
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How Can You Apply This In Your Day
Now that weve discussed what temperatures can kill the new coronavirus, you may be wondering how can you implement this into daily activities that involve temperature, such as laundry and cooking.
First, its important to note that many of the temperatures weve discussed above are warmer than residential hot water or the temperatures used in a washing machine or dryer. Theyre also higher than many recommended cooking temperatures.
While your washer and dryer may not reach 70°C , the combination of heat and detergent products can work together to effectively eliminate SARS-CoV-2 on fabrics.
To wash potentially contaminated fabrics, including cloth face coverings, do the following:
- Use the warmest water setting thats suitable for the fabrics youre washing.
- Select a detergent or bleach-based product thats appropriate for the items.
- Place fabrics into the dryer promptly after the washing cycle. Be sure to use high heat, and make sure all items are completely dry before removing.
- Try to wear gloves when handling fabrics that may be contaminated with the virus. Always wash your hands after handling potentially contaminated laundry.
The likelihood of getting COVID-19 from food that you cook yourself or that you get from a restaurant is very low.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , theres no evidence that food or food packaging is associated with the spread of COVID-19.
Kill Viruses With Fever Enhance Healing
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According to Natural News fever kills viruses. An article on Natural News states, Ever since the turn of the 20th century, using drugs to lower fevers has been standard operating procedure for most allopathic medicine practitioners. Take two aspirins and call me in the morning was a common medical humor gag throughout the 1950s.
The article later continues, Aspirin type medications may be needed for pain reduction, but when it comes to reducing fever from influenza of any type, taking an over the counter drug to reduce fever is not the way to go. Suppressing fevers can increase rapid viral replication, resulting in a berserk effort by an overwhelmed immune system to fight back. This is known as a cytokine storm, which can have disastrous results.
Any attempt to reduce fever during a viral influenza attack may accelerate the viruss rapid replication and produce viral pneumonia or worse. Of course, use common sense if your fever gets completely out of control and see a doctor.
Photo: Flickr/Rob Nguyen
Because of the fact that heat kills viruses and bacteria, use any form you have at your fingertips in food, blankets, water, such as hot baths. Confuse the virus in your body. Curry in particular, along with hot peppers work their magic. Heat in your body when you have the flu or a cold is your army.
Photo: Flickr/Thomas Mueller
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