Influenza virus A (H5N1): A pandemic risk?

Muhammed Babakir-Mina, Emanuela Balestra, Carlo Federico Perno, Stefano Aquaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Influenza A subtype H5N1 has represented a growing alarm since its recent identification in Asia. Previously thought to infect only wild birds and poultry, H5N1 has now infected humans, cats, pigs and other mammals in an ongoing outbreak, often with a fatal outcome. In order to evaluate the risk factors for human infection with influenza virus H5N1, here we summarize 53 case patients confirmed with H5N1 infection during 2006. The review also compares the mortality rate among human cases from late 2003 until 15 June 2006 in different countries, Neither how these viruses are transmitted to humans nor the most effective way to reduce the risk for infection is fully understood, The association between household contact with diseased poultry in human infection has been demonstrated, This association could possibly operate by 2 mechanisms. First, transmission may be by inhalation or conjunctival deposition of large infectious droplets which may travel only in short distances, Second, having infected poultry in the home and preparation of infected poultry for consumption may result in exposure to higher virus concentrations than other types of exposure. There is so far no significant evidence for repeated human to human transmission, yet some cases of human to human transmission among the family relatives in Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Turkey have been described. Recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus (H5N1 sub-type) infections in poultry and humans (through direct contact with infected birds) have raised concerns that a new influenza pandemic might occur in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalNew Microbiologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • Avian influenza
  • Pandemic
  • Pathogenicity
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Influenza virus A (H5N1): A pandemic risk?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this