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Pandemic influenza preparedness and mitigation in refugee and displaced populations - WHO guidelines for humanitarian agencies

Avian influenza, or “bird flu”, is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and usually grow in their gastrointestinal tracts. In domestic poultry, infection with avian influenza viruses causes two main forms of disease, distinguished by low and high levels of virulence. The so-called “low pathogenic” form commonly causes only mild symptoms and may easily go undetected. The highly pathogenic form spreads rapidly through poultry flocks, causes disease affecting multiple internal organs and has a mortality rate that may approach 100%, often within 48 hours. These viruses are transmitted between birds through their respiratory droplets or through their faeces.