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What we can learn about Avian Influenza from one bird?

Movement map from USGS

High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is back in Iowa. We just learned earlier this week of a large laying flock needing to be destroyed in Wright County. This brings the first major case of HPAI to Iowa this fall. As we talked last week with Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig last week, this is unlike 2015, when we only dealt with the disease during the spring migration. This is the first time we have seen the disease make a comeback in the fall.

We also learned last week of a study in Maryland that was able to track one infected bird and study its movements. We had the chance to speak with Jeffery Sullivan of the United States Geological Survey, based in Laurel, MD. He told us about how they discovered that they had tracking on an infected bird.

Sullivan says that they were able to learn quite a bit about the movement of an infected bird as opposed to a healthy bird. Of course, this only tracked the movement of one bird. This means that you have to take the data with a grain of salt. Sullivan remarked that the bird only lived for three days after being released. They were unable to recover the corpse, so they don’t know if the disease killed the bird or if it died of other causes. All of that aside, this is still more data than we had before this happened.

Sullivan talks about the future this opens up in association with other studies being done on HPAI, and also incorporating what we already know.

We have a long way to go in this fight and this was only one small step in the research, but it may be the giant leap we need to find a way out.

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