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New research findings can improve avian flu surveillance programs
Date:1/12/2010

genetically based technique for prioritizing wild bird species that are targeted for surveillance," said Dr. John Pearce, a USGS scientist and lead author of the study. "Refining the list of priority species for surveillance by this method can reduce time and effort involved in surveillance sampling and is needed not only for Alaska, but also for those species along the North

Atlantic coast of North America that may engage in transcontinental migrations, such as shorebirds and gulls," Pearce said.

With few exceptions, genetic evidence for transcontinental avian influenza virus exchange in North America has come from coastal regions closest to Europe or Asia Alaska and the North Atlantic.

These areas, said Pearce, probably represent the first or primary areas of contact for foreign viruses, yet only about a third of birds tested for HPAI H5N1 in the United States so far have been from these regions.

"Based on this new genetic evidence, one possible new strategy would be to target surveillance efforts on species in these coastal regions that are geographically closer to current sources of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus," Pearce said. "If there is no evidence of transcontinental avian influenza virus gene exchange for a certain species or regional pathway, then those species and areas could be deemphasized in future surveillance programs."


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Contact: Catherine Puckett
cpuckett@usgs.gov
352-264-3532
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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