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Examples of Human Infections with Avian Influenza Viruses

Human infections with avian influenza viruses are rare and most often occur after people are in contact with an infected bird. However, non-sustained person-to-person spread of avian influenza viruses is thought to have occurred in the past, most notably with Asian avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses reported primarily by 15 countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and the Near East.

For example:

Almost all of these cases occurred during unprotected, close and prolonged contact between a caregiver (mostly blood-related family members) and a very ill patient.

Human-to-human transmission ranges along a continuum; from occasional, “dead-end” human-to-human transmission, to efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission. “Dead end” transmission refers to a virus from an animal host infecting a person and then there is subsequent transmission from that infected person to another person that eventually burns out. Efficient and sustained (ongoing) transmission in the community is needed for an influenza pandemic to begin.