There are many types or strains of avian or bird flu.

As well as birds, some wild mammals – such as seals, otters, wild dogs and foxes – can catch them too.

Cases do occur in people from time to time and patients usually get better.

One type of bird flu, called H5N1, has been spreading for weeks among dairy cow herds in the US, with a small number of cases reported among humans.

The UK recently declared itself bird-flu-free after recording no new cases of H5N1, following outbreaks in poultry and other captive birds.

Responding to the news from Mexico, Prof Ian Brown, Avian Virology Group Lead, Pirbright Institute, said: “The prompt follow up in healthcare professionals and family members in contact with the infected patient provides reassurance at present this is an isolated case.”

Dr Ed Hutchinson from the University of Glasgow said it looked likely that the man’s infection was a spillover event – meaning he had probably caught it from an infected animal somehow.

“At the moment surveillance is taking place, including testing people who may have been exposed to the virus but fought off the infection to see if they show any signs of an immune response. If there are more human infections with this virus it would become of wider concern.”


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