What is there to know about avian influenza?

What is avian flu
Carmen Lobitz
avian flu
© elvira gerecht/stock.adobe.com

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Avian influenza (abbreviated: avian flu/bird flu) is a zoonosis. This means that a disease is transmitted from animals to humans and/or the other way around. Avian flu is an infectious disease that is caused by various types of influenza viruses.

Usually the flu only affects birds, and is harmless for humans. However, certain virus types can be passed on to humans and can be dangerous or even lethal. The lethal rate ranges between 20 and 50 percent of infected humans.

First documented in 1878 in Italy, we have known about 2,300 human cases of avian flu worldwide since 2003 (WHO), most often occurring in Asia. Currently, the most severe outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Germany and Europe is occurring. According to the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute there have been 394 confirmed infections since October 2021 in Germany alone. The dominant subtype is also potentially dangerous for humans.

How is avian flu caused and spread?

The responsible influenza virus types are Influenza A-viruses, of which many subtypes…

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