Causes of avian influenza (H5N1)

Explore the cause of avian influenza (H5N1), how it is spread and where it is found.

On this page:

What causes human infection with avian influenza (H5N1)?

The avian influenza A virus causes the avian influenza (H5N1) illness. There are 2 types of influenza:

  1. type A
  2. type B

This virus affects mainly birds. Since 1997, outbreaks in poultry have been found in:

  • Asia
  • the Middle East
  • Europe and
  • Africa

How is avian influenza (H5N1) spread?

The virus is spread by direct contact with live infected poultry or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces. But human infection with the H5N1 virus is rare.

People are most likely exposed to the virus during:

  • slaughter
  • defeathering
  • butchering
  • preparation for cooking

For more information

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: