The first avian influenza in humans was reported in Hong Kong in 1997. It was called avian influenza (H5N1). The outbreak was linked to chickens.
Since then there have been human cases of avian influenza A in Asia, Africa, Europe, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Pacific, and the near East. Hundreds of people have become sick with this virus. Up to half of the people who get this virus die from the illness.
The chance of a worldwide outbreak in humans goes up the more the avian flu virus spreads.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 21 states with avian flu in birds and no infections in humans as of August 2015.
- Most of these infections have occurred in both backyard and commercial poultry flocks.
- These recent HPAI H5 viruses have not infected any people in the United States, Canada, or internationally. The risk for infection in people is low.
Your risk of getting the bird flu virus is higher if:
- You work with poultry (such as farmers).
- You travel to countries where the virus is present.
- You touch an infected bird.
- You go into a building with sick or dead birds, feces, or litter from infected birds.
- You eat raw or undercooked poultry meat, eggs, or blood from infected birds.
No one has gotten avian flu virus from eating properly cooked poultry or poultry products.
Health care workers and people who live in the same house as people with bird flu may also be at higher risk for infection.
Avian flu viruses can live in the environment for long periods of time. Infection may be spread just by touching surfaces that have the virus on them. Birds who were infected with the flu can give off the virus in their feces and saliva for as long as 10 days.