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Bird flu or avian flu is a highly contagious viral infection that is transmitted between birds and on rare occasions, from birds to humans.
There are several varieties of bird flu, the majority of which do not affect humans. However, two types of bird flu have caused a lot of concern over recent years. These are the H5N1 virus, which was found to infect humans in 1997 and the H7N9 virus which infected humans in 2013.
Although these viruses are not usually spread between humans, they have claimed the lives of a number of people. Other strains of the bird flu virus that can infect humans include H7N7 and H9N2, although these strains do not usually cause severe illness.