In DepthEpidemiology

New bird flu strain brings death and questions

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Science  16 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6318, pp. 1363-1364
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6318.1363

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The avian influenza strain H5N8 has spread from Asia to many countries in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, infecting both wild birds and poultry; hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled to halt the epidemic. H5N8 is a distant descendant of the H5N1 virus that devastated flocks across much of the world and killed hundreds of people more than a decade ago. The good news is that so far, it does not seem to infect humans. But its rapid spread and increasing deadliness to birds have mystified experts. And it underscores that avian influenza, once an occasional crisis, is now endemic in the burgeoning flocks of Asia, from which it periodically spreads in migrating birds.