Influenza A Virus
Influenza A virus causes influenza in birds and some mammals. It is a genus of the Orthomyxoviridae family of viruses. Although the virus is uncommon several strains have been isolated from wild birds. Some can cause severe disease in domestic poultry and sometimes in humans. They are negative sense, single-stranded, segmented RNA viruses. Each subtype has mutated into a variety of strains with different pathogenic profiles. There is a vaccine for humans incase there is an avian influenza, or avian flu, outbreak. Variants are sometimes named according to the species the strain is endemic in or adapted to. Most strains are extinct.
Flu in the U.S. results in 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year. Wild aquatic birds are natural hosts for a large variety of influenza A viruses. Occasionally the virus is transmitted from these birds to other animals causing an outbreak.
It can be transmitted through the air, contaminated feed, water, equipment and clothing, however, there is no evidence that the virus can survive in well-cooked meat. Symptoms in humans usually include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, conjunctivitis, and in severe cases there can be breathing problems and pneumonia that may be fatal.