AI outbreak closely related to bird migration

A research jointly conducted by Chinese and Asian scientists has discovered that highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) outbreak was closely related to bird migration.

The discovery was revealed at the fifth regional meeting of the Asian Partnership on Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (APEIR),which concluded on Saturday in Kunming, capital of southwest Yunnan Province.

According to Lei Fumin, researcher of Institute of Zoology with Chinese Academy of Sciences, the research team had studied avian influenza outbreaks along the bird migration routes in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.  The team consisted of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Indonesian and Chinese scientists.

Studies showed that AI outbreaks in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau were frequently coincided with bird migration both in time and location.  Studies on migratory birds of different species in different regions which could carry the influenza’s virus showed that lakes and wetlands along the migration paths were key zones for the influenza viruses, Lei said.
The studies proved that the role of wild birds in the transmission of avian influenza should be paid great attention to, said Dr. Witthawat Wiriyarat from Thailand, who joined the research team. He proposed to form a regional surveillance network to monitor avian influenza viruses in migratory birds.
Bodies of migratory birds in large numbers were found around some lakes in the plateau in 2005, which drew scientists’ attention to the studies on the migration birds. “The migratory birds could constantly adapt and become immune to influenza viruses,” said Lei. “That has led to a decreasing infection ratio among them.

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