Avian influenza is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These influenza viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, avian influenza is very contagious among birds and canmake some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks and turkeys very sick and kill them. Infected birds shed influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions and faces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated secretions or excretions or with surfaces that are contaminated with infected birds. Domesticated birds may become infected with avian influenza virus thought direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry, or through contact with surfaces or materials that have been contaminated with the viruses. However, the highly pathogenic form spreads more rapidly through flocks of poultry. This form may cause disease that affects multiple internal organs and has a mortality rate that can reach 90%-100% often within 48 hours.
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