Navigating the Avian Influenza Outbreak: How scared should we be?

Navigating the Avian Influenza Outbreak: How scared should we be?

As avian influenza makes its periodic appearance on the world stage, the mainstream news is taking this opportunity to sensationalize and invoke fear on the public. The media is now focused on an outbreak in cattle, that has been detected in 8 states, affecting 26 dairy herds. It is believed these animals contracted the flu by being exposed to sick birds, and in some areas, the birds may have contaminated (even milking equipment) or feces.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern, but according to the CDC, H5N1 influenza has a very low potential for human-to-human transmission.

That is unless the University of Wisconsin’s gain of function research labs is successful. If that happens, an outbreak of avian influenza will change the whole outlook – with devastating consequences. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen for a very long time- or not at all. We don’t need another global pandemic.

As of this writing, avian influenza

The one recent US case of avian flu (H5N1) was a person who worked with cattle. His only symptom was conjunctivitis. He was treated with antivirals and has made a full recovery.

Avian flu has been around for a very long while

The first description of avian influenza dates to Northern Italy in 1878 and was later identified as a type A influenza virus in 1955, so this isn’t its first rodeo. Just as there are seasonal influenza outbreaks, avian influenza also has periodic outbreaks.

Avian influenza, often called "bird flu," is caused by the Type "A" influenza virus. This virus can affect several species of birds as well as pets and wild birds.

Avian influenza viruses are classified into 2 types, based on the severity of the illness:

  • Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), which causes little to no signs of illness.
  • highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, which can cause severe illness and death. The current outbreak in birds is the highly pathogenic (HPAI) type.

How flu spreads.

Whether it’s the avian or human influenza virus, they have similar modes of transmission, with a few differences.

Avian influenza primarily affects birds and is transmitted through saliva, nasal secretions, and feces of infected birds. In addition, it can infect via direct contact to contaminate areas such as cages, feed, water, and equipment. In limited cases, aerosol transmission can occur, especially when birds are in a confined space, such as a poultry barn.

Human influenza, on the other hand, is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets from an infected person when they cough or sneeze. If the virus reaches surfaces the infection can spread by touching the contaminated surface (doorknobs, computer keyboards, phones, bathroom, and kitchen areas, etc.), and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes, where infection enters.

Though uncommon, influenza viruses have been detected in feces, however, this is not a typical mode of transmission (fecal to oral) route.

Incubation period and symptoms

  • Birds- 2-5 days incubation, contagious from 1 day to 10 days. Almost always fatal.

Symptoms include death without prior symptoms, respiratory distress, decreased appetite, diarrhea loss of balance, lethargy, twisted necks.

  • Humans 1-4 days incubation but can be as long as 17 days, contagious from one day before symptoms to about 7 days after becoming sick. Symptoms include high fever, respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath which can progress to pneumonia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, change in mental state, and conjunctivitis.
  • Bird or cattle to human- There is limited information to determine incubation or symptoms, however, infections happen when the virus is airborne, or when touching a contaminated surface or bird/mammal. Symptoms range from mild conjunctivitis to pneumonia requiring hospitalization.

If you are exposed or suspect you have been exposed to avian influenza. Contact your local health department or veterinary clinic and pull out your Contagion Emergency Kit.

The Contagion Emergency Kit Has Got You Covered

Arm yourself with the most effective and research-backed antiviral medications, essential oils, and supplements to drive the flu bug away.

Along with adequate rest, good nutrition (no sugar), avoiding alcohol, and managing stress there are several proven ways to keep from getting sick, whether it is avian or any other flu lurking out there.

  • Dr Thorp, who is on our Chief Medical Board has developed an effective protocol that is inexpensive and simple to use with the nebulizer included in our Contagion Emergency Kit. This protocol helps break up the virus rendering it unable to infect. Start this therapy as soon as you start to feel sick.
  • In addition, the Contagion Emergency Kit contains powerful, proven antivirals to beat the flu before it gets the best of you: Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, budesonide, azithromycin, and oseltamivir, have all demonstrated their ability to arrest viral replication.
  • Adequate vitamin D levels are linked with a reduction in flu and other viral infections. Be sure to get stocked up on our Vitamin D and K formula.

Essential oils to the rescue

Our Origin Series of essential oils have been carefully selected for their antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. In addition, they clean the air, can provide relief from congestion, and can have a calming effect on the nervous system.

Teatree, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and lavender oil have all demonstrated powerful antiviral properties against respiratory viruses, including influenza. (1,2)

How to use essential oils (download the free e-guide on essential oil uses )

Make a powerful cleaning spray: Influenza virus can “live” on surfaces for up to 48 hours according to the CDC. Clean contaminated surfaces (doorknobs, sink areas, etc.) by adding a few drops of any of these oils to a spray bottle, add clean water, shake, and spray.

  • Aromatherapy: Use a diffuser to disperse the oil’s molecules into the air. Inhalation is one of the most effective ways to use essential oils for respiratory health.
  • Topical Application: Essential oils can be applied directly on the skin; however, they must be diluted with a carrier oil due to their high concentration. Coconut or jojoba oils work ideally as carrier oils. Dilute at least 1 drop to 1-2 tsp carrier oil.
  • Steam Inhalation: Add a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam. This can be particularly beneficial for congestion and respiratory tract infections.
  • Direct Inhalation: You can also inhale the oil directly from the bottle or a few drops placed on a cloth or tissue.

While the risk of avian flu to the general public is currently low, being aware of the disease and understanding how to prevent its spread are key to maintaining public health. By implementing these preventive measures, you can protect yourself from the potential threat of avian flu.  


  1. Silva JKRD, Figueiredo PLB, Byler KG, Setzer WN. Essential Oils as Antiviral Agents. Potential of Essential Oils to Treat SARS-CoV-2 Infection: An In-Silico Investigation. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 May 12;21(10):3426. doi: 10.3390/ijms21103426. PMID: 32408699; PMCID: PMC7279430.
  2. Abdul Rouf Wani, Kanchan Yadav, Aadil Khursheed, Manzoor Ahmad Rather,
  3. An updated and comprehensive review of the antiviral potential of essential oils and their chemical constituents with special focus on their mechanism of action against various influenza and coronaviruses, Microbial Pathogenesis, Volume 152,2021,104620,ISSN 0882-4010

Written by Brooke Lounsbury

About our editorial team

The TWC Editorial team is comprised of various wellness practitioners from physiotherapists, acupuncturists, fitness instructors, herbalists, and MDs.

This article does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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