Avian Influenza

© UNICEF/VTNA2007-00920/Jim Holmes
Avian influenza is a contagious viral disease caused by the H5N1 virus and affects birds, chicken and other poultry as well as pet birds and wild birds. The disease, which was mostly impacting Asia, has now become endemic and spread to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

So far, the spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been extremely rare. As long as avian influenza is not controlled, the risk of an imminent human influenza pandemic remains.

With over 70% of new and emerging infectious diseases originating from animals, and with global changes in ecology, technology, and human and animal population densities, there is a continued need to strengthen public health systems for responding to future disease outbreaks and influenza pandemics.