H5N1, known as bird flu, is an extremely virulent virus that causes serious illness in both birds and humans.Infection: H5N1 is naturally present in wild waterbirds, which can carry the virus without showing signs of disease. However, the virus canbe fatal to farmed bird species such as chickens and turkeys.Transmission to humans: Humans can be infected with the H5N1 virus through direct contact with infected birds or through contact with surfaces that have been contaminated with the excrement of these birds. The virus does not transmit easily from person to person, but mutations or genetic recombination could potentially produce a strain of the viruscapable of effective human-to-human transmission.Symptoms: Symptoms of H5N1 in humans are initially similar to those of seasonal flu, such as fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches. In severe cases, the disease can lead to pneumonia, multi-organ failure anddeath.Treatment: Treatment for H5N1 includes the use of antiviral drugs, symptom relief therapies and respiratory support. However, the best way to combat H5N1 is prevention, including hygiene practices and limiting contact with potentially infected birds.Global threat: H5N1 is considered one of the greatest global threatsto public health, due to its ability to cause major epidemics and its potential ability to cause an influenza pandemic.Science and research: Intensive research is underway around the world to understand H5N1, develop effective vaccines and monitor potential changes in the virus that could increase its ability to transmit between people.Remember that education and awareness are key tools in the fight againstthis potentially deadly virus.