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H5N1 avian influenza

Date: 23 July 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


The first death due to bird flu was recorded in Delhi after an 11 year old boy died due to H5N1 avian influenza.



Bird flu has been observed in many states after large number of migratory birds were reported to have found dead.



  • Avian influenza Type A viruses are the reason behind bird flu. These viruses are found worldwide in wild bird species.

  • Turkeys, ducks, chickens can all be infected due to the avian influenza virus. Animals such as pigs, camels and tigers have also been infected with H5N1 virus.

  • There are two types of proteins that are used to classify influenza type A virus. They are Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA).

  • Based on their numbers and arrangements they are classified into H17N10, H7N2, H9N6, H5N1 etc. There are 18 HA subtypes and 11 NA subtypes.


Human infections

  • Human infections have previously occurred with H5N1, H5N9, and H1N1 etc. Cases of H7N9 and also highly contagious H5N1 have previously taken place.

  • The disease has a high mortality rate of about 60 percent.  The most common way of getting infected is due to direct contact between human and infected bird.

  • Humans can also be affected if they are exposed to surfaces and air near the infected bird. Enough evidence of spread through cooked meat is not observed.



  • Common symptoms are similar to common flu. They include Fever, sore throat, nausea, abdominal pain, cough, diarrhea, muscle aches, vomiting.

  • Respiratory problems like pneumonia, shortness of breath, acute respiratory distress and respiratory failure have also been seen. Seizures and altered mental status are common.



Risks are seen mostly in adults and children below the age of 40 years. Higher mortality was seen in individuals in the age group of 10-19 years.



  • The transmission from one person to another has low chances. The transmission itself from birds to humans is rare.

  • People involved in poultry business or handling domestication of pigs and ducks must be careful to avoid going near them without proper precautions.

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