The first avian influenza in humans was reported in Hong Kong in 1997. It was called avian influenza (H5N1). The outbreak was linked to chickens.
Since then there have been human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) in Asia, Africa, Europe, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Pacific, and the near East. Hundreds of people have become sick with this virus. Up to half of the people who get this virus die from the illness.
The chance of a worldwide outbreak in humans goes up the more the avian flu virus spreads.
Your risk of getting the bird flu virus is higher if:
- You work with poultry (such as farmers)
- You travel to countries where the virus is present
- You touch an infected bird
- You eat raw or undercooked poultry meat, eggs, or blood from infected birds
Health care workers and people who live in the same house as people with bird flu may also be at higher risk of infection.
The avian flu virus (H5N1) lives in the environment for long periods of time. Infection may be spread just by touching surfaces that have the virus on them. Birds who were infected with this flu can give off the virus in their feces and saliva for as long as 10 days.