MBA Education & Careers
December 2005 28
The Avian Flu Pandemic
One of the major infectious diseases to
gain a global scale in recent times is the
Avian Flu also called Bird Flu. The
disease has struck fear in the hearts of the
governments of many nations as it has the
potential to infect and kill poultry in large
numbers. Even human beings are said to be
suspectible to a Bird Flu attack, which could
result in death. Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam,
Cambodia, Thailand, Turkey, Romania, Great
Britain, and China are some of the countries that
have witnessed the outbreak of Bird Flu.
An infectious disease, also called communicable
disease, is a disease caused by a biological agent
(e.g. virus, bacterium or parasite), as opposed to
physical (e.g. burns) or chemical (e.g.
intoxication) causes. For its spread, the infectious
disease requires an agent and a mode of
A good example is malaria, which is mainly
caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum
but does not affect humans unless the vector, the
Anopheles mosquito, is around to introduce the
parasite into the human bloodstream.
The vector does not have to be biological. Many
infectious diseases are transmitted by droplets
which enter the airway (e.g. common cold and
A pandemic (or global epidemic) is a disease that
affects people over an extensive geographical
What is Bird Flu?
All over the world, birds are routinely infected
with various types of avian influenza. There are
about 15 types of Avian Flu. The latest outbreak
has been caused by a strain called H5N1. This
particular strain is known to be extremely
contagious among birds, which often leads to
death. Since 1997 outbreaks of H5N1 have caused
the death or culling of millions of birds.
Infected birds spread the flu via saliva, excreta or
nasal secretions. Migratory wildfowl, especially
wild ducks, are natural carriers of the viruses.
Domesticated and tamed birds are especially
vulnerable to an outbreak of this scale.
As of now, human cases have be