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Migratory birds, domestic poultry and avian influenza
Date:4/5/2011

The persistence and recurrence of H5N1 avian influenza in endemic regions can largely be blamed on movement and infection by migratory birds. Trade in poultry, poultry products and caged birds, and movement of wild birds also account for H5N1 prevalence in these areas. Several recent outbreaks of avian influenza have suggested strong evidence of migratory birds playing a role in transmitting the virus over long distances.

In a paper published last week in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, authors Lydia Bourouiba, Stephen A. Gourley, Rongsong Liu, and Jianhong Wu analyze the interaction between non-migratory poultry and migratory birds in order to investigate the role of the latter in the spread of H5N1.

Although avian influenza rarely infects humans, occasional cases of human infection have been observed since the late nineties. Moreover, it is a huge problem in the poultry industry since infected flocks can cause a drain on resources and threaten food supply. It can also result in significant reduction in wild bird populations, which is of great ecological concern.

"How the interaction of a migratory bird species with domestic poultry contributes to the spread and persistence of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus is a question of profound importance to the control of avian influenza spread, and to the effort of mitigating the impact of the disease on the domestic poultry industry," says corresponding author Stephen Gourley, researcher in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Surrey. "Answering this question requires a truly interdisciplinary approach involving collaborations from different fields. Mathematical modeling can play a significant role in solving such a complex problem in which experiments are difficult and surveillance data is limited."

In order to determine how migratory birds might contribute to disease in poultry, the authors first analyze the susceptibility of migratory birds to i
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Contact: Karthika Muthukumaraswamy
karthika@siam.org
267-350-6383
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Source:Eurekalert

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