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Everyone must has surely heard about the so-called avian flu over the last several years. Many people wonder how they should be reacting to the scary headlines about people who have died of this bird flu and the possibility of the flu spreading at a very rapid pace and becoming an epidemic.

Even though the bird flu is a serious issue, it is probably not an immediate threat for most people, unless the family has chickens or is living in a country that has an ongoing outbreak of the flu.

Since it was identified in 1997, experts believe that only 160 people have contracted the disease.

The flu has affected birds mostly, but also people, in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It is different from the regular flu that people often get during the cold, winter months.

Chickens and turkeys tend to get infected, as well as migrating birds like ducks, geese and swans. They spread the flu from bird to bird through infected feces, saliva, and secretions.

The people in Asia that died of the flu came in direct contact with infected birds. However, the strain of the bird flu called the H5N1 cannot be spread from person to person like the regular flu or cold.

The fear that experts have is that the bird flu could potentially mutate into a brand new form that will then be able to spread from one person to another.

Since there is no vaccine for the bird flu currently, experts are afraid that a potential mutation that enables it to be spread between people could cause a worldwide epidemic.

However, health experts are taking precautions to prevent the further spreading of the flu. For example, America was not importing poultry from countries in which cases of avian flu outbreaks were reported.

Scientists are also working on a vaccine so that they can be ready to treat the virus if it ever mutates and becomes able to spread from person to person.

Also, if a person buys a pet bird in the United States, it should not have been exposed to the virus either. However, there is an illegal market for buying and selling exotic pet birds, so in order to be safe, if a person wants a bird as a pet, he or she should take the necessary precautions, buy from a certified dealer, and find out where the bird was raised before it came over to America.

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