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Sense About Bird Flu
An introduction to the study and reporting of the H5N1 flu virus
H5N1, bird flu, has attracted a lot of attention from scientists and science writers as it is the first H5 flu subtype to have transmitted from birds to people. However, although it remains a concern, H5N1 is not currently transmissable between humans. The bird flu virus is a bird disease, transmitted between both wild birds and poultry.
H1 and H7 flu viruses have transmitted from birds to humans, but the three pandemics that have occurred in the last century all share a genetic linkage. This began with the 'Spanish flu' (H1N1) influenza in 1918 and has evolved into milder strains, which are still circulating today.
Government and farmers are taking precautions to avoid the flu virus spreading between wild birds and infecting domestic poultry. Scientists are researching how the virus spreads and developing vaccines and anti-viral drugs to treat it. However, there is nothing that the public needs to do (except reporting any unusual cases of dead birds to Defra).
Document type: Sense About
Published: 1 April 2006