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According to recent reports from the United Nations, the bird flu may be returning and has mutated posing a significant health risk. Cases reported in China and Vietnam have indicated that an altered strain is showing resistance to vaccines and has already been reported as responsible for recent deaths. Avian influenza is transmitted from birds to humans, particularly in handling and processing facilities, and then is passed on by the human host to others. Though there seemed to have been a decline since 2006 in reported cases, there has been a sudden resurgence citing over 800 cases in 2010-11.
The H5N1 virus has significantly impacted poultry and wild bird populations since its initial appearance in 2003. A significant percentage of infected birds and individuals prove to be fatal, so containment of this virus is essential. Over 331 deaths have been attributed to the bird flu since 2003 and reportedly, it has cost-affected countries $20 billion in economic damage.
Residents of the affected areas in Asia are urged to take precautions to reduce the risk of contagion and transmission. Though the bird flu is likely to remain contained to these areas, because of migratory patterns of many wild birds, it is suggested that all begin taking precautions to prevent the spread. People are encouraged to help prevent virus transmission through cleaning, sanitizing, and even isolation. Because virus transmission tends to be based on direct contact, it is recommended to have gloves, face masks, disinfectants, and sanitizers on hand. This is of particular importance for children and the elderly.