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Skip Navigation LinksPennsylvania Department of Health > My Health > Emergency Preparedness > Pandemic > Current Threats



Because flu viruses are unpredictable, it is impossible to predict when the next pandemic will happen, or how severe it will be. The following are current threats to be aware of and stay informed about:

H5N1 (or Bird) Flu Virus

H5N1 (or bird) flu virus is a virus that is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly to them. H5N1 flu infection in humans is very rare and has never been found in the United States. Almost all human cases have been caused by people having direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or contaminated surfaces.

Symptoms of the H5N1 flu in humans include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases, and other severe and life-threatening complications.

To prevent infection with H5N1, be careful when visiting areas known to have H5N1 , and avoid close contact with infected birds or their surroundings. Since November 2003, more than 500 cases of human infection with H5N1 (Bird) flu viruses have been reported by more than a dozen countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and the Near East. Indonesia, Vietnam and Egypt have reported the highest number of H5N1 flu cases to date.

Although it is rare, it is a dangerous flu virus as approximately 60 percent of those infected around the world have died.