Global avian flu epidemic, conceptual computer artwork. The H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus first appeared in humans in Southeast Asia in 1997. Between 2003 and 2005 it killed over 60 people. It is carried by wildfowl, and can spread to commercial poultry, in which it is fatal. Humans can catch the virus if they are in close contact with infected poultry, although it cannot be contracted from meat or eggs. Also, as yet, H5N1 cannot be transferred between humans through the air as human flu viruses can. There are fears that the virus may mutate into a human transmissible form, which could lead to millions of deaths worldwide.
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