Bird Flu Closely Linked to Wild Bird Migration

CHINA - Scientists have discovered that outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) are closely related to bird migration.
calendar icon 18 January 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

"Avian influenza outbreaks in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau frequently coincided with bird migration, both in time and location"

A research jointly conducted by Chinese and Asian scientists has discovered that highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) outbreak was closely related to bird migration, according to an official source in China.

The discovery was revealed at the fifth regional meeting of the Asian Partnership on Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (APEIR), which concluded on 16 January in Kunming, capital of southwest Yunnan Province.

Lei Fumin, researcher of Institute of Zoology with Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua that the research team had studied avian influenza outbreaks along the bird migration routes in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

The research team consisted of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Indonesian and Chinese scientists.

Studies showed that avian influenza outbreaks in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau frequently coincided with bird migration, both in time and location.

Studies on migratory birds of different species in different regions which could carry the influenza's virus showed that lakes and wetlands along the migration paths were key zones for the influenza viruses, Lei said.

The studies proved that the role of wild birds in the transmission of avian influenza should be paid great attention to, said Dr Witthawat Wiriyarat from Thailand, who joined the research team.

He proposed the formation of a regional surveillance network to monitor avian influenza viruses in migratory birds.

Bodies of migratory birds in large number were found around some lakes in the plateau in 2005, which drew scientists' attention to the studies on the migration birds.

Dr Lei said: "The migratory birds could constantly adapt and become immune to influenza viruses. That has led to a decreasing infection ratio among them.

"If we could strengthen monitoring and prevent poultry from contacting the wild migratory birds, the chance of them getting infected by the birds will decrease."

With support from the APEIR, the research team will continue studies on the relations between the avian influenza outbreak and the migratory bird, Lei said.

The APEIR was initiated by Canada's International Development Research Center in 2005 to promote regional research collaboration on H5N1 bird flu.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
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