Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

First human case of H10N3 bird flu: What we know

China revealed the first human case of H10N3 bird flu on Tuesday, an announcement that has so far raised no alarm among world health authorities.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Russia detects first case of H5N8 avian flu in humans

Russia said Saturday that its scientists had detected the world's first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu from birds to humans and had alerted the World Health Organization.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

COVID-19 makes clear that bioethics must confront health disparities

With some reluctance, I've come to the sad realization the COVID-19 pandemic has been a stress test for bioethics, a field of study that intersects medicine, law, the humanities and the social sciences. As both a physician ...

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Avian influenza

Avian influenza, sometimes avian flu, and commonly bird flu, refers to "influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds." Of greatest concern is highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

"Bird flu" is a phrase similar to "swine flu," "dog flu," "horse flu," or "human flu" in that it refers to an illness caused by any of many different strains of influenza viruses that have adapted to a specific host. All known viruses that cause influenza in birds belong to the species influenza A virus. All subtypes (but not all strains of all subtypes) of influenza A virus are adapted to birds, which is why for many purposes avian flu virus is the influenza A virus (note that the "A" does not stand for "avian").

Adaptation is non-exclusive. Being adapted towards a particular species does not preclude adaptations, or partial adaptations, towards infecting different species. In this way strains of influenza viruses are adapted to multiple species, though may be preferential towards a particular host. For example, viruses responsible for influenza pandemics are adapted to both humans and birds. Recent influenza research into the genes of the Spanish flu virus shows it to have genes adapted to both birds and humans; with more of its genes from birds than less deadly later pandemic strains.

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