ZocdocAnswersCan someone die from avian influenza virus?

Question

Can someone die from avian influenza virus?

I don't hear about bird flu anymore. Can people still die from it? Can I catc hit? I'm 40.

Answer

Influenza is a significant public health concern, particularly after the recent outbreaks of flu strains that started in other species but then were able to cross-infect humans. You should feel free to raise all of your questions about influenza and vaccination with your primary care physician. The bird flu epidemic that was particularly problematic in the late 1990's has not been a problem in recent years. However, it is important to remember that the influenza virus does rapidly mutate and change such that the dominant infectious strains are different from year to year. This is the reason why your doctor recommends that you have a flu shot every year--each season's virus is different enough that last year's shot likely won't provide you any protection. The years in which the bird flu or the swine flu were constantly in the news were the years in which that particular virus was actively infecting people. However, just because the avian influenza has not been active in the last few years doesn't mean that you should forgo flu vaccination. People can die from the flu, both from complications of the virus itself or from secondary infections such as pneumonia that often follow the flu. Again, please talk to your doctor for more information.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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