What is avian influenza or “bird flu”?Avian influenza is different than pandemic influenza. It is a contagious viral infection that circulates year round, affecting all species of birds and sometimes mammals. On rare occasions it can be spread to humans through close contact with infected birds.
- Poultry flocks are especially vulnerable to infection.
Since 2003, an avian influenza virus called H5N1 has been circulating in Southeast Asia and parts of Europe, infecting many poultry populations and some humans. This strain of influenza is highly deadly to poultry but has not been seen in Canada.
- The H5N1 influenza virus has also infected a small number of people but there is no evidence it is spread from person to person.
In March 2013, avian influenza A(H7N9) virus emerged in China, causing severe disease in humans.
- Currently the human infections are found only in China and there is no evidence of spread of H7N9 influenza from person to person.
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