U.S. and International Responses to the Global Spread of Avian Flu: Issues for Congress [Updated April 4, 2006] [open pdf - 228KB]
"Influenza A/H5N1 is the strain of influenza currently spreading throughout the world. Although it is a bird flu, it has infected a relatively small number of people - killing more than half of those infected. Some scientists are concerned that H5N1 may cause the next influenza pandemic. Flu pandemics have occurred cyclically, between every 30 and 50 years. Since 1997, when the first human contracted H5N1 in Hong Kong, the virus has resurfaced and spread to nearly fifty countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa - infecting more than 190 people. In February 2006, the virus spread from Asia and central Europe to western Europe. In March 2006, health experts confirmed new bird flu cases among more than 20 countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Most of the countries were experiencing their first H5N1 cases. The first human H5N1 fatalities outside of Asia occurred in 2006 when Turkey and Iraq announced their first human deaths related to H5N1 infection in January 2006 and February 2006, followed by Azerbaijan and Egypt in March 2006."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33219