Avian Influenza - "Bird Flu"

Print on Demand

Avian influenza is called “bird flu,” because it naturally occurs in birds. Viruses that cause this do not usually infect humans and other animals, but sporadic human infections with avian influenza have occurred. Outbreaks of “bird flu” could lead to widespread infection in humans.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Signs & Symptoms

The viruses usually cause no or only mild symptoms in wild birds. Certain strains of “bird flu” can cause widespread disease and death in some kinds of wild birds, chickens, and turkeys.

Symptoms in Humans

•  Fever.

•  Cough.

•  Sore throat.

•  Muscle aches.

•  Eye infections.

•  Pneumonia. Severe problems breathing.

•  Other serious problems that can threaten life.


Avian influenza A viruses cause “bird flu.” Infected birds shed the virus in saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces can spread the virus to humans. “Bird flu” viruses may be able to change and infect humans directly. This means that the virus could easily pass from one human to another. If this happens, an “influenza pandemic” could occur.



When outbreaks occur, sick and exposed animals are killed. This keeps the virus from spreading. Persons who test positive for or might have “bird flu” are isolated. Certain antiviral medicines are given. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) track and address outbreaks.

Questions to Ask

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

800.CDC.INFO (232.4636)



World Health Organization (WHO)


Self-Care / Prevention

•  Check the Web sites listed below for current facts and possible vaccines for “bird flu” viruses. Avoid direct or close contact with wild birds and infected domestic birds and their droppings.

•  Take antiviral medicines, as prescribed.

•  Eat properly cooked poultry.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


The American Institute for Preventive Medicine (AIPM) is not responsible for the availability or content of external sites, nor does AIPM endorse them. Also, it is the responsibility of the user to examine the copyright and licensing restrictions of external pages and to secure all necessary permission.


The content on this website is proprietary. You may not modify, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit, or distribute, in any manner, the material on the website without the written permission of AIPM.