In order to understand how the flu mutates one must be familiar with what it is that causes the flu virus and it’s inherent symptoms, and how those organisms differ from one another. The flu, or Influenza, belongs to the ‘RNA’ family of viruses. There are three main types of these viruses; Influenza A, which affects wild aquatic life, Influenza B, which affects humans and Influenza C which affects humans, dogs, pigs and birds. In humans, symptoms chills, fever, congestion, sore throat, muscle aches, severe headaches, coughing, fatigue, and general discomfort. It may also cause nausea and vomiting, although those symptoms are more common in gastroenteritis.
Symptoms of the flu that cause considerable concern are coughing and sneezing related to congestion, as these tend to create aerosols containing the virus which migrate through the air infecting others. This is how the flu spreads globally throughout the hemispheres in a never ending ‘flu season’. As the world has shrunk with the rise of aviation, the virus, using humans as the host, can travel around the globe in less than a day. Indeed, the claustrophobic cigar tube of a Boeing economy section on a transatlantic flight is a petri dish for influenza to spread. Although this is the’ normal’ transmission method employed by the flu virus, it is not the only way one can become infected. Contact with contaminated bird dropping, mucus, or touching contaminated surfaces can all transmit the disease. This is primarily how the bird or swine flu jumps from one species to another, and also within that specie as a whole. Frequent hand washing and use of disinfectants can render the virus harmless and slow the spread of infection among the general population.
Not only do these cross species mutations impact humans but they can also wipe out domestic poultry, a severe problem currently affecting China’s farmers. Chickens and Turkeys succumb to the virus very easily, particularly when housed in less-than-hygenic conditions. In such instances, once can almost physically see the virus as it’s moves from bird to bird, decimating the coup. » Read more: How The Flu Mutates