12/16/2005

Avian Influenza or "Bird Flu"

Avian Influenza (AI) or "Bird Flu" is a highly contagious viral infection which
can affect all species of birds and can manifest itself in different ways
depending mainly on the pathogenicity of the virus involved and on the species
affected.


Influenza infections in birds are divided in two groups on the basis of their
ability to cause disease:

  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI): causing serious disease with high
    mortality (up to 100%) ­ notifiable to the OIE;
  • Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI): causing generally a mild disease ­ not
    notifiable to the OIE.

Even if in certain cases LPAI virus may mutate in HPAI virus and cause a
serious disease, the two infections are well distinct and should not be
confused.

While domestic birds are generally highly susceptible to the clinical
manifestation of the disease, wild birds, and especially waterfowls, are
usually naturally resistant and often don't show any clinical sign. Therefore,
wild waterfowl represent a natural reservoir for these viruses and can be
responsible for the primary introduction of infection into domestic poultry.

Humans are rarely affected by avian influenza and, if they are, the disease in
humans is often mild and transitory. However, human infections with HPAI
viruses may be even fatal. Therefore, great attention has always been given to
the disease and several actions are constantly taken in the world in order to
avoid new AI outbreaks and eradicate as soon as possible any new cases in
poultry or other birds.

Meanwhile there is information available on these topics not only by European
and International Organisations but by most European Member States as well,
like Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain,
Sweden, and United Kingdom.

More information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work