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Author(s) : B. Vallat

Summary :

Avian influenza viruses are widespread in their natural avian host and form part of the natural ecosystem. They persist in their low pathogenic forms in their avian reservoir without causing apparent damage to the host population. However, spontaneous mutations resulting in a drastic increase in virulence can occur, particularly in avian influenza viruses specifying the haemagglutinin subtypes H5 or H7. The resulting viruses can then cause fowl plague, otherwise known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, a disease first recognised at the end of the 19th Century in Italy.

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