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Friday, October 28, 2005

Mallards and Avian Influenza Viruses in Northern Europe

A study recently published by the CDC examines H5 and H7 influenza strains found in Mallards in the Netherlands and Sweden. Since many of the strains they found in Mallards were closely related to more pathogenic strains that caused outbreaks in Europe, the authors claim that "the minor genetic and antigenic diversity between the viruses recovered from wild birds and those causing HPAI outbreaks indicates that influenza A virus surveillance studies in wild birds can help generate prototypic vaccine candidates and design and evaluate diagnostic tests, before outbreaks occur in animals and humans."

Since low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) strains can become precursors to more dangerous HPAI strains, a proactive approach to avian influenza management would involve widespread testing of birds for all avian influenza A viruses, not just testing of sick birds for H5N1.

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