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Avian flu may spread via aerosol and droplets

Airborne transmission of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) viruses can occur among poultry and from poultry to humans during home or live-poultry market slaughter of infected poultry.

The conclusions follow a series of experiments by a research team led by the US Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They found that slaughter of chickens infected with the H5N1 strain produced airborne viruses that can infect birds and mammals.

Infectious droplets and aerosols

Using lab-simulated processing of chickens asymptomatically infected with human and avian-origin H5N1 viruses, the researchers identified both airborne infectious droplets and aerosols. However, transmission from ducks infected by the strain was far lower.

Influenza virus-native chickens and ferrets exposed to the air space in which virus-infected chickens were processed became infected and died, suggesting that the slaughter of infected chickens is an efficient source of airborne virus that can infect birds and mammals.

But they did not detect infections in ducks and ferrets exposed to the air space in which virus-infected ducks were processed.

The research has been published in Emerging Infectious Diseases here.

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