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H5N1

H5N1 is an avian influenza virus subtype.

The H5N1 flu is what is commonly meant when talking of "bird flu" or "avian influenza".

It is a viral disease that causes illness in many species including humans and is a pandemic threat.

Due to the high lethality and virulence of HPAI A(H5N1), its endemic presence, its increasingly large host reservoir, and its significant ongoing mutations, the H5N1 virus is the world's largest current pandemic threat, and billions of dollars are being spent researching H5N1 and preparing for a potential influenza pandemic.

At least 12 companies and 17 governments are developing pre-pandemic influenza vaccines in 28 different clinical trials that, if successful, could turn a deadly pandemic infection into a nondeadly one.

Full-scale production of a vaccine that could prevent any illness at all from the strain would require at least three months after the virus's emergence to begin, but it is hoped that vaccine production could increase until one billion doses were produced by one year after the initial identification of the virus.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "H5N1", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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May 25, 2015

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updated 12:56 pm ET