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Animal Health and Welfare
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Avian Influenza - Introduction

Avian Influenza (AI) or "Bird Flu" is a highly contagious viral infection which can affect all species of birds.

Influenza infections in birds are divided in two groups on the basis of their ability to cause disease:

  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) causing serious disease with high mortality and
  • Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) causing in general a mild disease.

Free-living birds may carry influenza viruses without becoming ill due to a natural resistance. It is known that wild waterfowl present a natural reservoir for these viruses and can be responsible for the primary introduction of infection into domestic poultry.

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In recent years three different subtypes of avian influenza viruses(H5N1, H7N7 and H9N2) have been detected in humans causing disease of varying degrees of seriousness.

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