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Identifying wild bird species that can transmit avian influenza to domestic birds

A. Caron, V. Grosbois, E. Etter, N. Gaidet, M. de Garine-Wichatitsky

AVIAN influenza viruses (AIVs) pose a risk to poultry farming and are potentially zoonotic. Many species of waterfowl are known to be maintenance hosts of AIVs in the wild. In most ecosystems in which domestic birds are farmed, a large number of wild bird species interact with each other and with domestic birds. Some of these species may act as ‘bridge’ hosts, that is, birds that interact with both waterfowl and farmed birds and could be responsible for spreading AIVs between populations. This study aimed to develop a framework to identify which species could act as bridge hosts in a specific ecosystem.

The study was conducted in the Manyame river catchment in Zimbabwe. The ecosystem included waterfowl living on the shores of two lakes; birds on poultry farms, ostrich farms and backyard poultry systems; and wild terrestrial birds. The waterfowl and domestic bird populations were counted at regular intervals over two and a half years. Frequency of contact between wild terrestrial bird species and waterfowl and domestic bird populations was also recorded. The most likely candidates for bridge species were then sampled for AIV infection. The three species sampled were …

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