Bird Flu

You know what a bird is. You know what the flu is as well. But do you know what the bird flu is or how it might connect to people?

Bird flu is sometimes called by a more sophisticated name. Some people call it the avian flu because avian means "having to do with birds". The bird flu, known as H5N1, is caused by a type A influenza virus, but it isn't the kind that usually bothers people. Instead, it affects birds. Actually, waterfowl naturally carry it, but even they don't typically get ill from it. Instead, domestic birds that get ill from the virus often die from it. It can spread rapidly through flocks of birds and potentially overseas. Since it first appeared in Asia, it has since spread to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Just as people transmit the flu to each other through close contact, the avian flu spreads much the same way. Birds infect other birds as they come in contact with each other. The bird flu can be especially deadly in commercial farming operations. Entire flocks of chickens or ducks raised for food can be wiped out. While the avian flu generally only spreads from bird to bird, it can occasionally be passed from bird to human.

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