Bird Flu

When we think of the major threats to our national security, the first to come to mind are nuclear proliferation, rogue states and global terrorism. But another kind of threat lurks beyond our shores, one from nature, not humans - an avian flu pandemic - Barack Obama

Bird Flu
Bird Flu

image by: Eneas De Troya

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A Major Avian Influenza Outbreak Could Kill 62 Million People

Pathogens love us—we offer them a whole host of ways to attack our bodies. We consider them "bad" because to exist they must invade our cells, but just like us, pathogens are organisms that evolve with one goal: survival.

In order to not die off, bacteria and viruses have to efficiently infect us and reproduce. Herpes and HPV spread best through sexual contact, Lyme disease and malaria through disease-carrying arthropods, and salmonella and E. coli in food. Respiratory illnesses like the common cold, the flu, and strep throat transmit best on tiny droplets in the air.

If a pathogen's purpose is to reproduce, it has to balance its virulence with its ability to infect host…

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 A Major Avian Influenza Outbreak Could Kill 62 Million People

Birds and pigs have caused fast-moving pandemics before. Take a look at the last century: A strain of the influenza virus containing both avian and swine genes caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed up to 50 million people worldwide. The 1957 Asian flu originated in birds, wiping out up to four million people. In 1968, a similar strain killed about one million. And in 2009, the H1N1 swine flu infected 60 million people worldwide. These influenza viruses started off being transmitted in birds and pigs via the fecal-oral route.

Bird Flu News

Current worldwide bird flu news.


"Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale"—Rudolf Virchow


As part of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, which includes both avian influenza and human pandemic preparedness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) works with its partners on the international and domestic fronts to help control the spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. Learn more about avian influenza and what you can do to protect poultry.


Avian influenza virus usually refers to influenza A viruses found chiefly in birds, but infections can occur in humans.


The latest Avian Influenza News


Avian Influenza or Bird Flu Fact Sheet


Bird flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that rarely infects humans. But when bird flu does strike humans, it's often deadly. More than half the people who become infected with bird flu die of the disease. In recent years, outbreaks of bird flu have occurred in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe. Most people who have developed symptoms of bird flu have had close contact with sick birds. In a few cases, bird flu has passed from one person to another.


Symptoms and treatment information.


Bird flu (avian influenza) is a disease caused by an influenza virus that primarily affects birds. In the late 1990s, a new strain of bird flu arose that was remarkable for its ability to cause severe disease and death, especially in domesticated birds such as ducks, chickens, or turkeys. As a result, this strain was called highly pathogenic (meaning very severe) avian influenza.


Breaking news on bird flu updated throughout the day, our global network of specialist correspondents provide comprehensive coverage of science and technology news.


Your Source for the Latest Research News on bird flu


Most avian influenza viruses do not cause disease in humans. However, some are zoonotic, meaning that they can infect humans and cause disease. The most well known example is the avian influenza subtype H5N1 viruses currently circulating in poultry in parts of Asia and northeast Africa, which have caused human disease and deaths since 1997. Other avian influenza subtypes, including H7N7 and H9N2, have also infected people. Some of these infections have been very severe and some have resulted in deaths, but many infections have been mild or even subclinical in humans.

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