What you should know about the new bird flu
By Mark Huffman
Bird flu is back in the headlines, with a new strain showing up in China. Should you be concerned? At this point, probably not. But as always, that could be subject to change.
In 2006 the media was full of scary scenarios about bird flu. For example, there were fears of panic and chaos if a strain of avian, or bird, flu spread around the world, creating a pandemic.
Bird flu did kill some people who were infected with it but the disease was fairly isolated and never got close to the pandemic proportions some health officials feared. The virus spreads easily among birds, such as ducks and chickens, and from birds to humans. But to date it has been unable to spread from human to human. Those who were infected with the virus got it from exposure to sick birds.
Now there is a new strain of bird flu, called H7N9. For the first time it has shown up in humans, infecting 16 people and killing six of them in China. All of the victims had direct exposure to birds before getting sick.