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Avian Flu: 10 Questions, 10 Answers

What You Can Do; What the Government Is Doing

9. Is there more than one type of bird flu?

Yes. The H5N1 bird flu gets a lot of attention because it is so widespread in Asia, and because many of the people unlucky enough to catch it from poultry have died.

Other bird flu bugs have spread to humans. One is the H7N7 bird flu that in 2003 infected a number of people in the Netherlands. This virus usually caused pinkeye in infected people. However, one unlucky veterinarian died from the virus. Fortunately, Dutch authorities stamped out the virus before it learned to spread widely in humans.

Bird flus have, in the past, infected U.S. poultry. So far, all of these bugs have been eradicated before spreading among humans.

10. Who is most vulnerable to bird flu?

Flu is usually most dangerous to infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with immune suppression (such as transplant patients or people with AIDS). It's also dangerous to people who have previously been hospitalized for flu or pneumonia.

But much depends on whether there's any immunity to the flu in some populations. For example, the 1918 flu was more deadly to young adults than to those over 40. It's thought that a similar virus may have circulated more than 40 years before, giving some protection to those who had caught it as youths.

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Reviewed on September 01, 2006

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