Document Type


Publication Date



h5n1, bird flu virus, people, pets, songbirds

Extension Number

ExEx 11019


Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences


We know that most people in Asia who have become infected with H5N1 (the bird flu virus) have been exposed while slaughtering, de-feathering, and butchering sick or dead domestic poultry. Only one outbreak of human H5N1 disease (in Azerbaijan) has involved wild birds as the most likely source of infection for humans. Following an outbreak of H5N1 in wild swans, humans who plucked the feathers from dead swans (for pillows) were likely exposed to the virus while collecting feathers. Of seven people who became ill, four later died. Scientists suspect there may be a genetic susceptibility to H5N1 virus in some people. “It is….likely that a high dose of virus may be needed to initiate an infection and that a readily accessible entry route for the virus does not exist…Studies on the exact route(s) of H5N1 virus entry in mammals are needed and may provide useful information for the human infection” (EFSA Journal, 2006).