Avian flu or also known as bird flu is an infection caused by a certain kind of avian influenza virus. Although there are many kinds of bird flu, the kind that now concerns health workers is the H5N1 bird flu virus. This virus is found in wild birds. Most of the time, wild birds don’t get sick from the virus. But wild birds can easily pass the virus to birds that are being raised for food, such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys. The virus can cause them to get very sick.
Usually bird flu virus is not passed from birds to people. But since 1997, some people have become sick with this serious, deadly kind of bird flu.
The virus spreads from bird to bird as infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and droppings. Healthy birds get infected when they come into contact with contaminated secretions or feces from infected birds. Contact with contaminated surfaces such as cages might also allow the virus to transfer from bird to bird.
Some definitions to put the bird flu threat into perspective:
A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. This could occur if a new virus (mutated from a bird flu virus) that causes serious illness were to emerge among humans (not birds) with the ability to spread easily from one person to another. A pandemic is caused by a new subtype that has never (or not recently) occurred in humans.
A fast-spreading, seasonal, or regional outbreak of flu among humans is called an epidemic.
This is different with swine flu. Swine flu is more dangerous than this one.
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