What is avian influenza or bird flu?
How does bird flu spread?
How are avian, pandemic, and seasonal flu different?
Have people become infected with bird flu? Has anyone died?
Can bird flu spread from person to person?
What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?
Is there a test to confirm bird flu in humans?
What type of treatment is provided for people who become infected with bird flu?
Is there a vaccine to protect against bird flu?
Will a seasonal flu shot protect me from bird flu?
Why is bird flu causing so much concern?
What are public health officials doing about bird flu?
What are public health officials in New Jersey doing about bird flu?
What is Atlantic County doing to prepare for a possible avian influenza pandemic?
How will avian/pandemic flu be detected in Atlantic County?
Sources - Go to Sources
Avian influenza (bird flu) is caused by a virus that occurs naturally in wild birds. There are several different types of avian influenza viruses. An avian virus type known as H5N1 has recently infected domesticated poultry flocks in various countries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. To date , no cases of the H5N1 avian flu virus have been detected in domestic birds or wildlife in the United States.
Bird flu is spread when infected birds shed the virus in their saliva, nasal secretions and droppings. Wild birds usually don’t get sick from the virus, but they can pass it on to domesticated birds like chickens, turkeys and ducks, which can get very sick and die.
Avian flu is
caused by avian influenza viruses, which occur naturally among birds.
Pandemic flu is flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness that spreads easily from person to person. Currently there is no pandemic flu.
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.
The first case of human infection with bird flu was reported in 997
in Hong Kong. Since then, more than 200 human cases have been
reported in Asia, Africa and Europe. Half of the infected people died. Public
health officials believe people were infected with bird flu after they
had contact with the bodily fluids of infected birds, or surfaces contaminated
with these fluids. To date, there have been no human
cases of bird flu reported in the U.S.
[Current situational updates and cumulative reports of human cases of avian influenza (H5N1) are available on the World Health Organization (WHO) Web site]
So far, the spread of the avian influenza virus from person to person has been limited and has not continued beyond one person. Nonetheless, because all flu viruses have the ability to change, scientists are concerned that avian influenza virus one day could be able to infect humans and spread easily from one person to another.
Bird flu can cause typical flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Symptoms may also include eye infection, pneumonia and severe breathing problems, possibly leading to death. Up to 10 days may pass between being exposed to the virus and developing these symptoms.
Yes. Healthcare providers can perform a test for influenza. If this test is positive, other testing can be done to determine if the influenza is bird flu.
People who are infected with bird flu can become very sick. Treatment may include hospitalization, supportive care and/or the use of drugs known as antivirals. In order for antivirals to be effective they must be started within 48 hours of symptom onset. Antibiotics are not effective against bird flu.
There is no approved vaccine to prevent bird flu, but scientists are at work to develop one.
No. Annual flu shots protect against virus strains that already circulate among humans. They offer no protection against bird flu. People should still get flu shots because seasonal influenza kills 36,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Humans have little or no natural protection against bird flu viruses. There is concern that the current bird flu virus could change into a form that spreads easily between humans. We don’t know if or when that might happen. If it does, a worldwide outbreak, or pandemic, could occur. Many people could get sick and die, depending on the severity of the pandemic.
If bird flu evolved into a pandemic, every country in the world could be affected. International experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) are working together to carefully watch for bird flu outbreaks in birds and humans. Increasingly, nations are sharing information on disease outbreaks, collaborating on methods to control the spread of infection, and preparing for the possibility of a pandemic. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with national and international partners to control further outbreaks of avian influenza and to prepare for the possibility of influenza pandemic. CDC also continues to recommend enhanced surveillance for avian influenza infection among travelers with severe unexplained respiratory illness returning from avian influenza-affected countries. Additional information is available on the CDC web site.
We do not know if the avian type H5N1 eventually will be the cause of the next pandemic or if it will disappear and another influenza virus will be the cause. To prepare for that possibility, the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services (NJDHSS) has developed an Influenza Pandemic Plan, which is updated periodically. It describes the responsibilities of public health agencies, hospitals, and other public health partners.
The Division of Public Health is working closely with the Atlantic City Health Department and NJDHSS on development of an Atlantic County Pandemic Flu Plan. The intent of this county-specific plan is to help minimize morbidity and mortality, and maintain the operations of essential community services in the event of a pandemic. This plan is updated when new information and guidelines from NJDHSS, CDC, and WHO are made available. The plan is developed to complement both the state’s plan and our existing Atlantic County Interim Bioterrorism Public Health Emergency Plan.
As with any epidemic, the key to preventing or limiting an influenza outbreak is early detection and implementation of prompt coordinated containment measures. The Atlantic County Division of Public Health is taking part in a number of pandemic prevention and preparedness activities, including:
In addition to human surveillance activities, the county has enhanced surveillance within the animal population by expanding the existing community-based reporting of dead birds to a year-round program. Additional wild bird and veterinary based surveillance efforts are currently under development and will be deployed locally once available.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Influenza Page
Avian Flu Page
Flu Activity Reports-U.S.
World Health Organization (WHO)Avian Influenza Page
New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH)Influenza Pandemic Preparedness
Flu Activity Reports-New Jersey
Atlantic County Division of Public HealthSeasonal Flu Page »
Interim Bioterrorism & Public Health Emergency Plan-Executive Summary