|A) Avian influenza, or "bird flu", is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and, less commonly, pigs. While all bird species are thought to be susceptible to infection, domestic poultry flocks are especially vulnerable to infections that can rapidly reach epidemic proportions.
The disease in birds has two forms. The first causes mild illness, sometimes expressed only as ruffled feathers or reduced egg production. Of greater concern is the second form, known as “highly pathogenic avian influenza”. This form, which was first recognized in Italy in 1878, is extremely contagious in birds and rapidly fatal, with a mortality approaching 100%. Birds can die on the same day that symptoms first appear.