(Bird Flu, H5N1 Infection)
DefinitionAvian influenza is a strain of influenza virus that primarily infects birds. It is often called the bird flu. In Asia and Africa, there have been cases of avian influenza that have the ability to infect humans. The most significant of these avian influenza strains is called H5N1. This strain can cause serious illness and death.
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CausesAvian influenza is caused by a specific influenza type A virus. The virus is common among wild and domestic birds but rarely infects humans. Occasionally, the virus can mutate which allows it to infect humans. The virus is passed through contact with an infected bird’s:
- Saliva or blood
- Nasal secretions
Risk FactorsClose contact with infected poultry increases your chance of avian influenza. This may include domestic or wild ducks, geese, chickens, or turkeys. Your chance of infection is also increased with recent travel to an area known to have avian influenza. Avian influenza outbreaks are most common in Asia, the Middle East, and northeast Africa.
SymptomsSymptoms of avian influenza may include: pneumonia or serious organ failure.
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