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The first avian influenza virus to infect humans directly occurred in Hong Kong in 1997, during an avian flu epidemic on the island. This outbreak was linked to chickens and classified as avian influenza A (H5N1).
Human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) have now been reported in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and the near East, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Around 400 people have become sick with this virus. However, a little over 60% of those who became ill have died.
The more the avian flu virus spreads, the greater the chances of a worldwide outbreak. There is a tremendous concern that H5N1 poses an enormous pandemic threat.
Symptoms of avian flu infection in humans depend on the strain of virus. Infection with the H5N1 virus in humans causes more classic flu-like symptoms, which might include:
Cough (dry or productive)
Fever greater than 100.4°F (38°C)