Difference Between Bird Flu and Swine Flu (With Table)

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Communicable diseases are modern-day cancer. Not only human-to-human but communicable diseases can be caused by other organisms too. Two such communicable diseases are Bird Flu and Swine Flu. Even the two diseases rarely affect human beings, they are one of the most common diseases in animals and birds.

Bird Flu vs Swine Flu

The difference between Bird Flu and Swine Flu is that Bird Flu is transmitted to humans through infected birds whereas Swine Flu is transmitted to humans through infected animals, particularly pigs. Both of the two diseases are very rare to spread in human beings, but if infected, they can lead to severe symptoms.

Bird Flu is an infection-causing disease in most wild birds, but some forms can also transmit to humans and animals. The most common form of bird flu is H5N1. Migrating waterfowl and wild ducks are the natural carriers of bird flu viruses. Bird Flu affects people via direct contact with infected birds, and their contaminated surfaces too.

Swine Flu is a respiratory infectious disease that affects mostly pigs and rarely other animals, but it has been known to cause various regular flu-like symptoms in humans as well. This disease is caused by H1N1 viruses. Swine Flu can easily spread from human to human after initial contact with pigs.

Comparison Table Between Bird Flu and Swine Flu

Parameters of ComparisonBird FluSwine Flu
VirusIt is caused by the H5N1 Virus.It is caused by the H1N1 Virus.
CausesDirect contact with birds, airborne droplets, and their excretory waste.Direct contact with pigs, already infected humans.
PreventionGood hygiene, avoiding open-air poultry farms, avoid eating undercooked eggs and meat.Flu Vaccines, antiviral medicines, good hygiene, etc.
SymptomsCough, diarrhea, fever, headache, etc.Runny nose, watery eyes, cough, fever, etc.
TreatmentAntiviral medication such as oseltamivir, zanamivir, etc.Antiviral drugs, Decongestant, Analgesic, etc.

What is Bird Flu?

Bird Flu is formally known as Avian Influenza. Historically, cases of Bird Flu emerged in 1878 and it was then known as Fowl Plague. Human infections of this disease were first witnessed in 1997. There are many types of Bird Flu viruses but only five of these viruses including H5N1, H7N3, H7N7, H7N9, and H9N2, have been known to infect human beings. The most common Bird Flue causing virus is H5N1.

Transmission of Bird Flu into humans is a result of physical contact with an infected bird, contaminated area, air droplets, etc. Although most birds have a mild infection of this disease, it can become extremely deadly once it is transmitted to domestic birds such as chicken, turkey, etc. The human-to-human transmission includes only a rare number of cases. Bird Flu is a much larger threat in areas with big, closed poultry farms due to low hygienic conditions.

The symptoms of Bird Flu in humans are similar to all viruses. Some common symptoms include cough, diarrhea, headache, etc. Even though the disease is not as common among people, the casualty rate is much higher. According to World Health Organization, the disease has killed as many as 60% of infected people. Furthermore, there is no vaccine available for Bird Flu yet.

What is Swine Flu?

Swine Flu is also known as Pig Flu. It is a respiratory disease caused by the Swine Influenza Virus (SIV) and it is common in pigs throughout the world. The first case of this disease was reported in 1958. Since the symptoms are mostly mild, the true rate of infection can be a lot more. The cases are mostly never reported or diagnosed as the symptoms are similar to that of regular flu. The most common virus causing Swine Flu in humans is H1N1 Virus.

Direct transmission of this disease to humans is rare, and hence, there have been only a few severe cases in history. However, if a person gets the disease, the disease spreads fairly quickly from human to human. It is people who closely work as farmers, in poultry, in swine, etc., are prone to the disease. Some common symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes, cough, fever, etc., similar to regular flu. The casualty rate of Swine Flu is pretty low and usually is not identified.

Proper handwashing techniques, hygienic surroundings, etc., can easily prevent the disease. As of 2009, H1N1 Vaccine is available and since then, the infection rate in humans is significantly reduced. On the other hand, a vaccine for pigs is also available but is not 100% effective.

Main Differences Between Bird Flu and Swine Flu

  1. Bird Flu is a diseasecaused due to the birds whereas Swine Flu is a disease because of the pigs.
  2. Bird Flu can spread throughout multiple organs whereas Swine Flu infects the respiratory system.
  3. Bird Flu has a much higher casualty rate than Swine Flu.
  4. Bird Flu spreads very slowly whereas Swine Flu spreads fairly quickly.
  5. There is no vaccination available for Bird Flu while the H1N1 vaccine is available for Swine Flu.


Bird Flu and Swine Flu are often thought to be not as severe as the transmission rate is considerably low as compared to other communicable diseases. However, lack of hygiene while working with birds and animals can cause infection from these diseases.

Even though Bird Flu is very rare, it can be very deadly for humans as well. On top of that, the lack of vaccines makes the situation even worse. Swine Flu, on the other hand, is not nearly as severe as Bird Flu. Swine Flu usually causes self-diagnosing symptoms but the spreading rate of this disease in humans can be extremely high. However, the availability of the H1N1 Virus has made sure that the disease doesn’t cause severe infections.

The symptoms of a severe Bird Flu can be deadly as it has the ability to affect almost all the internal organs of the body, which may cause other diseases as well. On the other hand, Swine Flu’s infection is limited to the respiratory organs only. In both diseases, the infection resolves within a few weeks at maximum if not severe. Hence, the preventive measures and H1N1 vaccine becomes crucial, especially for people who work closely with animals and birds.


  1. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rstb.2018.0257
  2. https://www.bmj.com/content/338/bmj.b1791.long
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