The U.S. is now recommending flu vaccines for all of us, not only to prevent seasonal flu illness that kills 36,000 people per year, but also to possibly protect us from the Avian (bird) flu.
Avian influenza, or bird flu is an infection caused by bird viruses. This virus has not been brought into the U.S., but has infected 121 people in Asia and killed 62 people. Most have died after close contact with sick birds.
There are many different subtypes of bird flu and it is likely that some genetic parts of the current human flu viruses came from birds originally. Since viruses are constantly changing, they might adapt over time to infect and spread among humans. Experts fear that the virus could mutate into a form that could be transmitted between humans, triggering a global pandemic.
Efforts are underway to develop a vaccine to protect humans against Avian flu. Currently the risk to Americans from the bird flu outbreak in Asia is low. Our human flu vaccine is something to consider as we hear about the progress of this bird flu and how it may effect us.
(Via WebMD Health Headlines.)