Bird flu disease dynamics

  • The practice of breeding game birds for hunting may be playing an important role in the propagation of bird flu and other avian diseases, which could also mutate to infect the human population.
  • Game re-stocking is the captive breeding of birds, sometimes in crowded conditions, to be released for hunting.
  • Health ecology researchers in the south of France investigated the influence of hand- reared mallards in these game re-stocking facilities on wild birds, and discovered that the H10N7 strain of the virus could be detected in wild mallards when previously it was absent from the population.
  • This is particularly concerning with the bird flu update from South East Asia revealing a new fatal bird-flu virus spreading through birds in Vietnam. The new virus type has a much higher toxicity than those previously recorded in the area.

Understanding where disease threats may come from and how pathogens such as the bird flu virus spread is essential to control or at the least, minimise the impact, of emerging diseases on wildlife. The interactions between commercially produced birds and wild populations can then be targeted to prevent spread of these often-deadly new diseases.

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About annaarathe

Research fellow, horizon scanning
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