Defintion of Avian Influenza
Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a disease caused by influenza viruses that infect poultry and some wild birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds, in Asia, Europe and Africa. The Asian H5N1 virus is a specific, very infections influenza strain that is deadly to birds. H5N1 first cropped up in Southeast Asia, causing huge fatalities in poultry. It has been documented in people, pigs, domestic and wild cats and, rarely, dogs. How the virus gets into mammals isn’t clear; they may become infected by eating contaminated birds or coming into contact with their bodily fluids. It also isn’t clear how bird flu affects dogs; reports range from no symptoms to fever to respiratory problems to death. Fortunately, H5N1 has not been found in any birds or mammals in North America. Health officials are following bird flu worldwide, because of the chance that it could be brought to this country by migrating birds.