Bird Flu Alarm



Understanding Avian Influenza

BACKGROUND ON THE CURRENT OUTBREAK

BACKGROUND ON THE CURRENT OUTBREAK

An outbreak of influenza A (H5N1), also know as "avian flu" or "bird flu," has been reported in several countries throughout Asia. Cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) in birds have been confirmed in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. Human cases of avian influenza have been reported in Thailand and Vietnam. During this outbreak investigation, it has not been determined that avian flu is spread from person to person. This strain of avian influenza A (H5N1) currently affecting Asia has not been found in the United States. The current outbreak of avian influenza has prompted the killing of more than 25 million birds in Asia.

In February 2004, different strains of avian flu were detected among several flocks of birds in the U.S. and state officials ordered the destruction of hundreds of thousands of birds. The avian influenza strain found in Delaware was (H7N2), in Pennsylvania the strain was (H2N2), and the (H5N2) strain was found in Texas. The strain found in Texas has been determined to be "highly pathogenic" to birds. However, the strain of avian influenza in Texas is not the same as the strain that is affecting Asia.1 There does not appear to be any connection between the illness in the flocks on the East Coast and the flock in Texas. Wild birds are the natural hosts for the virus. Avian flu viruses circulate among birds worldwide and are highly contagious among birds. It is also important to note that the United States annually imports an estimated 20,000 birds from countries with current avian influenza outbreaks, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.