Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a type A influenza virus. It
is lethal to poultry and is potentially fatal in humans. Bird flu spreads
between both wild and domesticated birds. It has also been passed from birds to
humans who are in close contact with poultry or other birds.
There is no clear evidence that the virus can be transmitted from human to
human. However this may have happened in rare cases, where a person has become
ill after caring for a sick family member.
Scientists are concerned that the bird flu virus may combine with a human flu
virus and mutate, which may make transmission between humans possible.
The strain of bird flu presently affecting Asia is the H5N1 strain. This strain
has killed more than 130 people in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand,
Turkey, Azerbaijan, Eygpt, China, and Iraq since 2003.
There have been several bird flu outbreaks in Australia among commercial flocks
of birds, all of which have been contained and eradicated.