Bird Flu News

Bird flu is a form of influenza that is caused by avian influenza type A viruses. These viruses occur naturally in aquatic birds around the world and can infect domestic poultry and other birds. While the virus rarely infects humans, more than 600 cases of bird flu in humans over the past decade have raised some alarms for health experts.

Most cases of bird flu in humans have occurred in Southeast Asia, in countries including Vietnam and Indonesia. Though the disease is rare, it's concerning because it causes a high death rate in humans if not treated.

Bird Flu: What You Need to Know

Instances of bird flu in humans are very rare. Most of the documented cases that have occurred were due to human contact with sick or dead poultry. In extremely rare instances, the disease was passed from one person to another.

When bird flu does occur, it seems to primarily affect children and adults younger than 40. The symptoms of this flu virus vary based on how “pathogenic” (disease-producing) it is. Low-pathogenic bird flu virus often causes flu-like symptoms and a mild respiratory infection. In the rare instances of high-pathogenic bird flu, however, the symptoms can include severe respiratory problems, organ failure, neurological changes, seizures and death.


Another fear related to bird flu is the belief that the virus has become resistant to flu medications. Though it's true that the bird flu virus has shown resistance to two flu drugs, amantadine and rimantadine, two other antiviral medications are effective in treating it: oseltamivir and zanamivir. In addition, getting a flu vaccination each year provides additional protection against the bird flu virus.

Although the chances of catching bird flu are currently very slim, it always pays to be vigilant. Carefully monitor any flu-like symptoms, and talk with your doctor if they persist for more than a couple of days or worsen.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Lung Association.

Date Posted
Article Title
Is a Dangerous Bird Flu on the Horizon?

H7N9 is still confined to China, but new research suggests potential for wider transmission

Bird Flu Strain May Have Jumped From Cat to Human

New York City health department says veterinarian treating sick cats likely was infected with the virus

Your Birth Year Might Help Shield You From Bird Flu Strains

A child's first flu infection appears to affect which new viruses they'll be protected against in the future

Migration Helps Spread Bird Flu Worldwide

Scientists recommend keeping wild birds away from poultry farms

Patient-to-Doctor Spread of Bird Flu Reported in China

But odds are slim that deadly virus will spread easily among people, experts say

Person-to-Person Bird Flu Transmission Likely Happened at Chinese Hospital

Previously, the spread has been limited to within families, researchers say

Scientists Aim to Improve Vaccines Against 'Bird Flu'

Two studies show promising results

Current Bird Flu Has Pandemic Potential

Just a few changes are needed for circulating strains to become contagious to humans, study finds

Bird Flu Doesn't Spread Easily to Humans, Scientists Say

New analysis of H7N9 strain might ease concerns of possible pandemic

Taiwan Woman 1st Human Infected With New Strain of Bird Flu

Scientists aren't sure about the potential threat posed by the H6N1 virus

Closing Chinese Poultry Markets Stalled Bird Flu's Spread to People

Cases dropped quickly and dramatically, researchers found

Could Immune Cell Discovery Lead to Universal Flu Vaccine?

British study found people with more of certain virus-killing immune cells fared better during swine flu pandemic

China Bird Flu Appears to Have Spread From Person to Person

Single reported case does not mean pandemic is likely, although vigilance is needed, experts say

China's Bird Flu Might Someday Spread More Easily: Report

For now, however, the virus doesn't transfer well from human to human, experts say

China's Bird Flu's Drug Resistance Worries Experts

Current tests don't detect strains that won't respond to antiviral medication, study says

Scientists Examine New Bird Flu's Potential to Spread

They looked at transmission between humans and mammals in lab

Simple Mutations Could Make Flu Viruses More Deadly: Studies

But strains scientists conjure up in the lab are unlikely to occur in nature, one expert says

No Evidence That New Bird Flu Passes Between People: Study

But researchers cautioned that genetic makeup of the H7N9 virus is changing to adapt it for mammal infection

Controversial Bird Flu Research to Resume

U.S. still on hold, but scientists in other countries ready to end moratorium

Once-Banned Bird Flu Study Yields Sobering Findings

Few mutations needed to allow airborne spread of H5N1 virus in mammals, scientists find

Once-Banned Bird Flu Study Suggests Pandemic Threat Is Real

Researchers found the virus could potentially mutate and spread widely among people, but that hasn't happened so far

U.S. Advisers Say It's Now Safe to Publish Bird Flu Studies

Revisions to the research erase worry that bioterrorists might learn how to unleash a pandemic

'Bird' Flu May Be More Common in Humans, But Less Deadly

Millions may have had virus without noticing it, researchers find

Bird Flu Studies Can Be Published After All: WHO

Experts said security risk was outweighed by need to share findings on possible mutations by the virus

U.S. Advisers Explain Request to Censor Bird Flu Research

Published details of experiments could be used for harmful purposes, experts warn

Scientists Agree to Delay Controversial Bird Flu Research

Fears that altered virus could escape from lab or be used by bioterrorists feeds debate

Two U.S. Children Contract New Strain of Swine Flu

But general public should not be concerned, CDC says