What is avian influenza, or “flu”, and how is it different from a pandemic flu or seasonal flu?
Avian influenza (H5N1) - commonly called "bird flu" - is an infection caused by a highly pathogenic influenza virus that occurs naturally in birds. At this time, it is uncertain whether the H5N1 virus currently circulating in birds will lead to a global disease outbreak (pandemic) in humans.
An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza A virus appears or "emerges" in the human population, causes serious illness, and then spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Following are some key facts about avian flu:
Avian flu, or “bird flu,” is caused by avian influenza viruses, which occur naturally among birds but do not typically cause disease in humans.
In the current avian flu outbreak caused by the H5N1 virus, millions of birds have died or been killed.
H5N1 bird flu was first reported to cause severe illness in humans in Asia in 1997.