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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A (H5N1) in Birds and Other Animals

Birds and Poultry

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A (H5N1) virus occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly, especially in domestic poultry.

HPAI H5N1 virus infections resulting in high mortality in poultry and wild birds have been detected in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa since December of 2003.

HPAI H5N1 virus infections among domestic poultry have become common (endemic) in certain areas. As of 2011, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization considers six countries to be endemic for HPAI H5N1 virus in poultry (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Vietnam).

See Avian Influenza in Birds for more information.

Other Animals

HPAI H5N1 viruses have been detected in other animals as well (see list below). Infection of animals other than birds with these viruses has caused symptomatic illness, severe disease and death in most infected animals.

Examples include the following:

  • HPAI H5N1 virus infection among pigs in China, Indonesia and Vietnam
  • HPAI H5N1 virus infection of cats (experimental infection of housecats in the Netherlands; isolation of HPAI H5N1 virus from domestic cats in Germany and Thailand; and detection of HPAI H5N1 viral RNA in domestic cats in Iraq and Austria)
  • HPAI H5N1 virus infection of dogs (isolation of HPAI H5N1 virus from a domestic dog in Thailand)
  • HPAI H5N1 virus infection in a wild stone marten (a weasel-like mammal) was reported in Germany and in a wild civet cat in Vietnam
  • Isolation of H5N1 viruses from tigers and leopards at zoos in Thailand

As HPAI H5N1 viruses continue to evolve, other mammals may become infected. For more information, see the update on avian influenza in animals from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) website.

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