“H7N9 can spread very quietly throughout the poultry population. The main use of the maps is to target surveillance, I think these maps can show areas where there’s a high chance of the disease flaring up if it arrives”.—Tim Robinson . . . .
Feeding poultry in Bangladesh (photo on Flickr by WorldFish).
A recent paper that maps the global distributions of the world’s major livestock species has already been used to advance understanding of where surveillance efforts should be targeted to prevent the possible spread of a lethal bird flu virus now circulating in poultry populations in China, where it has killed 62 people. The original mapping work, led by Tim Robinson, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and published at the end of May, was immediately put to practical use in locating large regions in South and Southeast Asia that would suit the new lethal virus. Ominously, unlike H5N1, a viral strain of bird flu that has killed millions of poultry and at least 359 humans since its first appearance in 1987, H7N9 does not cause severe illness in the chickens it infects, making it much more difficult to detect, and…
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