ZocdocAnswersWhat are the differences between regular flu and bird flu?

Question

What are the differences between regular flu and bird flu?

Do you just get one from people and one from birds?

Answer

Bird flu is a slang term that is used to describe a strand of the influenza A virus that has adapted to infect birds. Influenza A is the most common type of virus that causes "the flu" in humans and birds, and also causes the most series symptoms of influenza compared to the other strains. Bird flu has become famous in the public because of the historical epidemics when a strand of influenza A that tends to infect birds adapts to infect humans as well. When this happens, humans get a worse case of the flu from these strains because almost no one will have immunity to it. When a bird flu virus makes the jump to humans, there is probably an instance in which a bird with the flu transmits the new and adapted virus to a human. After that, the virus is spread from human to human. Thus for all intents and purposes, if we had a bird flu epidemic, you would get the virus from another human, not a bird. This is an excellent question for you to pose to you primary care physician. He or she can keep in informed as to which flu strains are most likely to be infecting humans in a given year. In addition, when October rolls around, you can get a flu shot to protect you against that most common influenza strains that will be active that year.

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

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