Bird flu/avian flu

Bird flu, also known as avian flu, is a collective name for a disease that occurs in poultry and other birds. It is caused by variants of the flu virus (influenza virus) that are contagious for birds. Birds can get sick from this virus and even die. In rare cases, some types of bird flu viruses can be transmitted to humans and provoke (major) flu. This only happens if there is a direct and close contact with infected birds. Bird flu does not transmit between humans.

Bird flu: signs and symptoms

People infected with a bird flu virus experience regular flu like symptoms, such as aching muscles, fever, headache, a cough or conjunctivitis. Usually the symptoms are fairly mild, but some virus types can cause severe symptoms and even lead to death. In the past, variants of bird flu causing severe illness have occurred in parts of Asia. In 1997, bird flu led to the death of six people in Hong Kong.

Bird flu vaccination?

There is no specific vaccine that offers protection against bird flu. This is partly because many different types of bird flu viruses exist and their compositions can quickly change. People who have direct contact with (potentially) sick birds (and animals) sometimes get for professional reasons get sick animals direct contact with (potentially) are sometimes given virus inhibitors to reduce the risk of getting ill.

Current status

The most recent outbreak bird flu in the Netherlands was in November 2016, when the virus subtype H5N8 was detected. Furthermore, the virus can occur anywhere around the world. If you travel to areas where bird flu is prevalent, such as in large parts of Asia, it is advised to avoid direct contact with birds. Also, don’t visit live animal markets or poultry farms. It is safe to eat poultry, provided the meat is thoroughly cooked and piping hot before serving. Some websites provide information on where bird flu occurs.