Treatment of avian influenza (H5N1)

Access information on how avian influenza (H5N1) is diagnosed and how it is treated.

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How is avian influenza (H5N1) diagnosed?

Avian influenza (H5N1) cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone, so a laboratory test is required.

Avian influenza (H5N1) is usually diagnosed by taking a swab from the nose or throat during the first few days of illness. This swab is then sent to a laboratory for testing to identify the type of virus causing the infection.

How is avian influenza (H5N1) treated?

Antiviral medications can be used to treat avian influenza (H5N1). It is important that antiviral medications be taken as early as possible, ideally within 48 hours of getting sick. They can:

  • reduce influenza symptoms
  • shorten the length of illness
  • potentially reduce serious complications

People with severe infection need to be treated at the intensive care unit at the hospital. They may need mechanical ventilation as well as other supportive care.

Antiviral medications do not provide immunity against the avian influenza (H5N1) virus.

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