The Bird Flu virus re-emerged in Asia in 2003, outbreaks have been confirmed in more than 48 countries and territories, according to data from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Since the beginning of January, 2006, more than 30 countries have reported outbreaks, in most cases involving wild birds such as swans.
The virus has killed 114 people since 2003 in nine countries and territories, according to the WHO. Countries with confirmed human cases are: Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
In total, the virus is known to have infected 206 people since 2003, according to the WHO. Many of those who have died are children and young adults.
Vietnam and Indonesia have the highest number of cases, accounting for 66 of the total deaths.
The H5N1 virus is not new to science and was responsible for an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Scotland in 1959. Britain confirmed a new case in Scotland on April 6.
Apart from H5N1 there are numerous strains of bird flu virus. For example, an outbreak in 2003 of the H7N7 bird flu virus in the Netherlands led to the destruction of more than 30 million birds — around a third of the country’s poultry stock. About 2.7 million were destroyed in Belgium, and around 400,000 in Germany. In the Netherlands, 89 people were infected with the H7N7 virus, of whom one (a veterinarian) died.
The H5N1 virus made the first known jump into humans in Hong Kong in 1997, infecting 18 people and killing six of them. The government ordered the immediate culling of the territory’s entire poultry flock, ending the outbreak.
Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical influenza-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, to eye inflammations (conjunctivitis), pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, viral pneumonia, and other severe and life-threatening complications.
Sources: OIE, WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;