Common US birds could spread H5N1
US researchers have reported that birds found commonly
in North America, including the common wood duck and laughing gull, are highly
susceptible to the H5N1 avian influenza virus and could transmit the disease.
The University of
researchers say different species of North American birds would
respond very differently if infected with the bird
Professor David Stallknecht
, co-author of the study, said that
in order to be able to quickly detect and fight the disease, it's important to
know which species are likely to be affected by highly pathogenic H5N1, should
it arrive in North America.
"If you're looking for highly pathogenic H5N1 in wild birds, it would
really pay to investigate any wood duck deaths because they seem to be highly
susceptible, as are laughing gulls," said Stallknecht.
"It was also very interesting that in some species you normally think of as
influenza reservoirs - the mallard, for instance - the duration and extent of
viral shedding is relatively low. This may be good news since it suggests that
highly pathogenic H5N1 may have a difficult time surviving in North American
wild birds even if it did arrive here."
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