What You Need to Know: Avian Influenza (Part I)

We’re kicking off a new series called What You Need to Know about avian influenza, a hot topic in the health field. Often called the “avian flu” or “bird flu,” this term refers to the naturally occurring infection of birds with the avian influenza Type A virus. Avian influenza can spread from wild aquatic birds to domestic poultry, such as turkeys, often leading to a serious outbreak of disease.

So, what do you need to know about the avian flu?

•TYPES: There are two types of avian flu—low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). These two categories refer to the virus’ ability to produce disease. While LPAI may cause no disease or mild illness, HPAI can lead to a greater risk of disease with high mortality.

•CURRENT CASES: Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed several cases of HPAI H5 in domestic and wild birds in the U.S. in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. See the USDA’s interactive map of avian influenza findings here: http://1.usa.gov/1gkAFwD

•HUMAN RISK: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no human cases of the HPAI H5 virus have been detected in the U.S., Canada or internationally. The CDC currently considers it low risk that the HPAI H5 infections will occur among humans.


We hope you’ll check back with InsideCTEH for more on the avian flu. In the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing how this virus affects humans, including transmission, detection, prevention and treatment. For additional information, please visit cdc.gov or usda.gov.