What is Bird Flu?

Bird flu or Avian flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that hardly ever infects humans. There are over a dozen bird flu varieties that have been identified, including H5N1 and H7N9, which infected humans recently. When humans are infected by a bird flu virus, it is very often fatal. Over 60% of human patients who were infected by the H5N1 virus died.

The H5N1 bird flu does not spread from person to person very easily like other viruses that infect us. The handful of human-to-human transmission cases were among people who had very close contact, such as a mother who was infected by the bird flu virus, while caring for her sick baby. People cannot be infected after eating fully cooked eggs or chicken. It’s possible to be infected after close contact with birds (poultry) or bird droppings. In some cases, infections were due to the bird flu present in the air at poultry markets.

So far, there has been no continuous person-to-person spread of bird flu that should be a cause for concern.

Woman wearing mask

How Do You Prevent Bird Flu Transmission?

Here are a few steps for bird flu prevention, following it helps to protect you and anyone you know who may handle poultry.

  • Always wash your hands before and after handling food
  • Turn away from people while coughing or sneezing and cover your mouth with tissues
  • Throw used tissues into the garbage can immediately after use and use soap and warm water to wash hands
  • Don’t visit public places if you're ill
  • Inform your doctor about your symptoms so they can give you a seat away from other people and provide a surgical mask if needed
  • Maintain good health and keep up with government recommended vaccinations, if you're in a high-risk group – for example, if you have a long-term illness such as asthma or you're 65 or over