Avian influenza in humans

Most avian influenza viruses do not cause disease in humans. However, some are zoonotic, meaning that they can infect humans and cause disease. The most well known example is the avian influenza subtype H5N1 viruses currently circulating in poultry in parts of Asia and northeast Africa, which have caused human disease and deaths since 1997.

Other avian influenza subtypes, including H7N7 and H9N2, have also infected people. Some of these infections have been very severe and some have resulted in deaths, but many infections have been mild or even subclinical in humans.

Because birds play an important role as a source of food and livelihoods in many countries affected by avian influenza viruses, WHO and animal health sector partners are working at the human-animal interface to identify and reduce animal health and public health risks within national contexts.