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1. What is avian influenza?

Influenza A is caused by specified viruses that are members of the family
Orthomyxoviridae and placed in the genus influenzavirus A. There are three influenza
genera – A, B and C; only influenza A viruses are known to infect birds. Diagnosis is by
isolation of the virus or by detection and characterisation of fragments of its genome.
This is because infections in birds can give rise to a wide variety of clinical signs that
may vary according to the host, strain of virus, the host’s immune status, presence of
any secondary exacerbating organisms and environmental conditions.
Influenza in birds is caused by infection with viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae
placed in the genus influenzavirus A Influenza A viruses are the only orthomyxoviruses
known to naturally affect birds. Many species of birds have been shown to be usceptible
to infecti on with influenza A viruses; aquatic birds form a major reservoir of these
viruses, and the overwhelming majority of isolates have been of low pathogenicity (low
virulence) for chickens and Turkeys. Influenza A viruses have antigenically related
nucleocapsid and matrix proteins, but are classified into subtypes on the basis of their
haemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) antigens (World Health Organization Expert
Committee, 1980). At present, 16 H subtypes (H1–H16) and 9 N subtypes (N1–N9) are
recognised with proposed new subtypes (H17,H18) for influenza A viruses from bats in
Guatemala (Swayne et al., 2013; Tong et al., 2012; 2013). To date, naturally occurring
highly pathogenic influenza A viruses that produce acute clinical disease in chickens,
turkeys and other birds of economic importance have been associated only with the H5
and H7 subtypes. Most viruses of the H5 and H7 subtype isolated from birds have been
of low pathogenicity for poultry. Asthere is the risk of a H5 or H7 virus of low
pathogenicity (H5/H7 low pathogenicity avian influenza [LPAI]) becoming highly
pathogenic by mutation, all H5/H7 LPAI viruses from poultry are notifiable to OIE. In
addition, all high pathogenicity viruses from poultry and other birds, including wild
birds, are notifiable to the OIE.
Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza
virus. The disease, which was first identified in Italy more than 100 years ago, occurs
The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not
usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes
of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997.
Influenza type A viruses are divided into subtypes and are named on the basis of two proteins
on the surface of the virus: hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). For example, an
“H7N2 virus” designates an influenza A subtype that has an HA 7 protein and an NA 2
protein. Similarly, an “H5N1” virus has an HA 5 protein and an NA 1 protein. There are 16
known HA subtypes and nine known NA subtypes.
The avian influenza H5N1 virus
Influenza A (H5N1) virus, also called “H5N1 virus,” is an influenza A virus subtype that
occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly to them. This is
the virus that has infected and/or killed dozens of humans in Asia since 1997.
Unlike seasonal influenza, in which infection usually causes only mild respiratory symptoms
in most people, H5N1 infection may follow an unusually aggressive clinical course, with
rapid deterioration and high fatality. Primary viral pneumonia and multi-organ failure have
been common among people who have become ill with H5N1 influenza.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization.

such as X-rays. such as poultry. there is no evidence of human-to-human spread of avian influenza. or dead poultry. Some people who have bird flu may need a machine called a ventilator to help them breathe better. Thus far. can become infected with avian influenza virus when they have contact with contaminated nasal. and if you have been near any birds. Infected birds shed virus in saliva. Viruses become resistant when they change over time. sick. Some questions your doctor might ask are:  Have you been within 3 ft (1 m) of live. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e. bird flu leads to death. When your doctors and nurses are caring for you. Certain birds. nasal secretions. Other people may need a machine to help the kidneys work better (dialysis). or other tests. No one can predict when a pandemic might occur. particularly waterfowl. But experts are concerned that certain antiviral medicines may not work against bird flu.g.. domesticated chicken. Then your doctor may order blood tests. and then the medicines that worked in the past no longer work well. However. experts from around the world are watching the H5N1 situation in Asia and Europe very closely and are preparing for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily from person to person.2. if the H5N1 virus were to gain the capacity to spread easily from person to person. and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds. If your doctor thinks that you may have bird flu. an influenza pandemic (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin. However. where you have traveled recently. How is avian influenza spread/ Ethiology ? Avian influenza viruses circulate among birds worldwide. Fecal-to-oral transmission is the most common mode of spread between birds. he or she will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms and past health. antiviral medicines may help you feel better. Susceptible birds. you will stay in a private hospital room (isolation room) to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others. and feces. If you have bird flu. or with wild birds?  Have you eaten raw or poorly cooked poultry or eggs?  Have you had close contact (touching or speaking distance) with someone from an area affected with H5N1 bird flu virus who has a severe respiratory illness or who later died from an unknown cause?  Are you a lab or poultry worker who might have been exposed to H5N1 bird flu virus? How bird flu is treated depends on what the virus is doing to your body. they will wear gloves and gowns. More than half of the time. ducks. or fecal material from infected birds. Your doctor will also ask where you live. nasal swabs. act as hosts for influenza viruses by carrying the virus in their intestines and shedding it. to help find out what is making you sick. In some cases. respiratory. .

oie.E.L (2000) S WAYNE D. sci. tech. Int.& SUAREZ D. OIE web portal on avian influenza: www. Epiz . Highly pathogenic avian influenza. .