What are the key facts about the bird flu?

Avian flu has two forms, a mild form and a fatal form that can cause death within 24 hours of the first appearance of symptoms. The deadly form was first discovered in Italy in 1878. All birds are believed to be susceptible to the virus, though some species seem to have more resistance than others.

Who is most affected by avian influenza virus?

As with seasonal flu, some people are at higher risk for serious illness. They include pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and adults 65 and older.

How did the bird flu stop?

nothing happened. The virus continued to kill chickens and to occasionally infect and sometimes kill people. But as the years passed, the number of human H5N1 cases subsided. There has not been a single H5N1 human infection detected since February 2017.


The low pathogenic avian influenza A(H7N9) viruses (LPAI) were first identified in 2013 and have continued to infect humans since then. It was reported in February 2017 that the LPAI H7N9 virus has evolved into highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses, potentially increasing the risk for human and poultry.

What is the bird flu?

Español. Avian influenza refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans.

Is bird flu still a threat?

Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a viral infection spread from bird to bird. The most common kind of bird flu is the H5N1 strain. It’s mostly a threat to birds and doesn’t spread easily among people, but there was a major outbreak of bird flu in people in 2014.

Can a human be infected with an avian flu virus?

Although avian influenza A viruses usually do not infect people, rare cases of human infection with these viruses have been reported. Infected birds shed avian influenza virus in their saliva, mucous and feces. Human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled.

When was the avian influenza virus first identified?

The avian influenza virus A (H5N1) emerged in 1996. It was first identified in Southern China and Hong Kong. The A (H5N1) virus kills a high proportion of the poultry that it infects and is therefore known as a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. It remains poorly adapted to humans.

Is the influenza A virus specific to birds?

However, certain subtypes of influenza A virus are specific to certain species, except for birds, which are hosts to all known subtypes of influenza A viruses. Currently circulating Influenza A subtypes in humans are H3N2 and H1N1 viruses.

Why is it important to monitor avian flu?

However, because of the possibility that avian influenza A viruses could change and gain the ability to spread easily between people, monitoring for human infection and person-to-person spread is extremely important for public health.