Is bird flu still a danger?

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    Yes. As of this writing, influenza A virus subtype H5N1—bird flu—has not made an appearance in the United States. But it still lurks in many parts of the world, particularly Asia and parts of Africa. What makes the virus so scary is its deadliness—it kills 50 to 80 percent of the people it infects. Currently, the virus is primarily passed from an infected bird to a human. "You're not going to get it because you're on the plane with someone who has it," says Richard V. Lee, MD, a physician and infectious disease expert at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Nor does cooked chicken pose a risk, since heat kills the virus. But influenza viruses can evolve rapidly, and despite some promising vaccine developments, if the H5N1 virus develops an ability to spread rapidly between people anytime soon, it could spell disaster.

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