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Study on flu evolution may change textbooks, history books
Date:2/16/2014

aphic origins of any of the genes of the pandemic virus.

"Our study changes that," Worobey said. "It is now clear that most of its genome jumped from birds very close to 1918 in the Western Hemisphere, and there is a suggestion that it was North America in particular."

The results also challenge the accepted wisdom of wild birds as the major reservoir harboring the flu virus, from where it jumps to domestic birds and other species, including humans. Instead, the genetic diversity across the whole avian virus gene pool in domestic and wild birds often appears to trace back to earlier outbreaks of the virus in domestic birds, Worobey explained.

"People tend to think of wild birds as the source of everything, but we see a very strong indication of spillover from domestic birds to wild birds," he said. "It turns out the animals we keep for food and eggs may be substantially shaping the diversity of these viruses in the wild over time spans of decades. That is a surprise."


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Contact: Daniel Stolte
stolte@email.arizona.edu
520-954-1964
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert  

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