Influenza A Virus Subtype H5N1

Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as "bird flu", A(H5N1) or simply H5N1, is a subtype of the influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1", is the causative agent of H5N1 flu, commonly known as "avian influenza" or "bird flu". It is enzootic in many bird populations, especially in Southeast Asia. One strain of HPAI A(H5N1) is spreading globally after first appearing in Asia. It is epizootic (an epidemic in nonhumans) and panzootic (affecting animals of many species, especially over a wide area), killing tens of millions of birds and spurring the culling of hundreds of millions of others to stem its spread. Most references to "bird flu" and H5N1 in the popular media refer to this strain.

According to the FAO Avian Influenza Disease Emergency Situation Update, H5N1 pathogenicity is continuing to gradually rise in endemic areas, but the avian influenza disease situation in farmed birds is being held in check by vaccination. Eleven outbreaks of H5N1 were reported worldwide in June 2008 in five countries (China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam) compared to 65 outbreaks in June 2006 and 55 in June 2007. The "global HPAI situation can be said to have improved markedly in the first half of 2008 cases of HPAI are still underestimated and underreported in many countries because of limitations in country disease surveillance systems". On October 10, 2011 the WHO announced a total of 566 confirmed human cases which resulted in the deaths of 332 people since 2003.

A filtered and purified influenza A vaccine for humans is being developed, and many countries have recommended it be stockpiled so, if an avian influenza pandemic starts jumping to humans, the vaccine can quickly be administered to avoid loss of life. Avian influenza is sometimes called avian flu, and commonly bird flu.

Research has shown that a highly contagious strain of H5N1, one that might allow airborne transmission between mammals, can be reached in only a few mutations, raising the spectre of a pandemic epidemy in the human population.

Read more about Influenza A Virus Subtype H5N1:  Overview, Signs and Symptoms, Genetics, Treatment, Epidemiology, Society and Culture

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Influenza A Virus Subtype H5N1 - Society and Culture
... H5N1 has had a significant effect on human society, especially the financial, political, social, and personal responses to both actual and predicted deaths in birds, humans ... dollars are being raised and spent to research H5N1 and prepare for a potential avian influenza pandemic ... Over $10 billion have been spent and over 200 million birds have been killed to try to contain H5N1 ...

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