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What is bird flu? Is it just an animal thing, or can people catch it?

Helena Oliviero, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Health & Fitness

ATLANTA — Bird flu continues to pose a low risk to the general public according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is rare for humans to get bird flu and currently, most cases of bird flu in people around the globe are linked to direct contact with an infected animal ― mostly birds.

But scientists are paying close attention to how the virus is changing and are on high alert for any changes in the bird flu virus that might enable it to spread more easily among people.

Here are some bird flu basics:

Q: What is bird flu?

A: Bird flu is a group of viruses that primarily infects birds. It is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages.

 

Q: Can people catch bird flu?

Yes. Bird flu does not usually infect people, but there have been some people who have caught the virus through exposure to sick or dead animals.

Q: How long has bird flu been around?

Bird flu was first detected in 1996 among birds in China, according to the CDC. One year later, an outbreak in Hong Kong resulted in 18 human cases, including six deaths, after people were infected directly by birds.

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