About Bird Flu
- Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection caused by Influenza Type A viruses which spreads from bird to bird.
- These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
- There are several subtypes of the avian influenza virus. Currently, a particularly deadly strain of bird flu — H5N1 — continues to spread among poultry in Egypt and in certain parts of Asia. The H5N1 virus can cause severe flu with a high mortality rate.
- Avian influenza viruses do not normally infect humans. However, there have been instances of certain highly pathogenic strains causing severe respiratory disease in humans. In most cases, the people infected had been in close contact with infected poultry or with objects contaminated by their faeces.
- However, the World Health Organization had expressed concern that the virus could mutate to become more easily transmissible between humans, raising the possibility of an influenza pandemic.
Why in News?
- Ongoing avian influenza outbreaks in animals are raising concerns about the potential risks to humans, according to a joint statement issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).
- While the outbreaks have primarily affected animals, including poultry, wild birds, and some mammals, the increasing number of H5N1 avian influenza detections among mammals raises the possibility of the virus adapting to infect humans more easily.