Borne on the Wing: Avian Influenza Risk in U.S. Wild Songbirds Mapped
Bird flu research conducted by Center for Tropical Research scientists is featured in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.
Scientists have discovered that 22 species of passerines--songbirds and perching birds--in the contiguous U.S. are carriers of low-pathogenicity avian influenza. Pathogenicity is the ability of a germ to produce an infectious disease in an organism. Research results were reported in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases. The study is supported by the joint National Institutes of Health (NIH)-National Science Foundation (NSF) Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID) Program. At NSF, EID is co-funded by the Directorates for Biological Sciences and Geosciences.
"Avian influenza virus [AIV] is an important public health issue because pandemic influenza viruses in people have contained genes from viruses that infect birds," says Trevon Fuller, lead author of the paper and a biologist at the Center for Tropical Research at UCLA.
Analysis of the geographic distribution of AIV, says Thomas Smith, also a biologist at the Center for Tropical Research at UCLA and a co-author of the paper, "can identify areas where such 'reassortment' events might occur, and how high pathogenicity might travel if it enters wild bird populations in the U.S."
Emily Curd, a graduate student at the UCLA Center for Tropical Research, developed a technique to detect short fragments of influenza. It proved crucial to the research, says Smith.
To read the full press release by the National Science Foundation click here.
Published: Tuesday, July 06, 2010