Epidemiology of Avian Influenza H5N1 Virus

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Bird flu (H5N1) which is also known as Avian Influenza H5N1 is a highly pathogenic flu that has infected many poultries and humans in the world, mostly in Asian countries. The global spread of the H5N1 outbreak itself occurs because of the undetected H5N1-infected migratory waterfowl which moves seasonally, large quantity of poultry and illegal trading in developing countries such as in Southeast Asia which is hard to control and eradicate causing the intercontinental out spread. The first outbreak was in Guangdong Province, China in a farmed goose, and human infections were first reported in the following year, 1997, in Hong Kong with 6 deaths of 18 cases. Avian influenza viruses (H5N1) belong to Orthomyxoviruses family type A and are characterized by its glycoproteins which are haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Migratory waterfowl, especially domestic ducks, are expected as natural reservoirs of H5N1 influenza A virus because all 16 haemagglutinin (HA) and 9 neuraminidase (NA) subtypes of influenza A virus are isolated from these hosts, and domestic ducks can also be silent host which show only few signs of illness. Influenza A viruses can be transmitted from the natural host into many species such as pigs, tigers, leopards, cats, eagles, and humans. The modes of H5N1 wide transmissions are expected to be Live Bird Market (LBM), illegal trade, and transport of illegal poultry or exotic birds. Based on WHO cumulative number of human cases, there are 565 cases including 331 deaths in 15 countries since the first wave of H5N1 in 2003 until 2011 with Indonesia as the highest incidence of H5N1 human cases among H5N1-infected countries. There have been some control measures applied to eradicate H5N1 such as burial, compo... ... middle of paper ... ...ted H5N1 vaccine with a single dose has been tested as safe and immunogenic in adults. In conclusion, H5N1 is highly pathogenic and lethal avian influenza virus which is susceptible and transmissible for many species including humans. Although human-to-human transmission is not yet confirmed as possible, this first epidemic should give an important lesson in responding to the sick poultry and applying hygienic life. Vaccination in both poultry and human is highly important to prevent the recurrence of H5N1 outbreak. Incentives and compensation should be given to the stock farmer because in rural areas, poultry become the major income and food. With incentives and the aid for better standard of living from government, there will be less backyard poultry and illegal poultry; therefore, control measures can be successfully done to eradicate existing H5N1 virus.

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