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Study highlights potential of avian influenza to infect commercial flocks
Migrating birds harbouring weaker viruses are more likely to pass avian flu to domestic flocks.
Migrating birds with weaker virus more likely to pass disease to domestic flocks.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have revealed insights into avian influenza viruses and their potential to infect commercial flocks.  

Scientists found that avian influenza viruses can readily exchange genetic material with other low pathogenic viruses during migration, increasing the chance of a serious outbreak occurring on domestic poultry and wild birds.

Dr Sam Lycett from the Roslin Institute explains: “Bird flu viruses can readily exchange genetic material with other influenza viruses and this, in combination with repeated transmission of viruses between domestic and wild birds, means that a viral strain can emerge and persist in wild bird populations, which carries a high risk of disease for poultry.

“This aids our understanding of how a pathogenic avian flu virus could become established in wild bird populations."

In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers analysed the genetic makeup of the 2016/17 avian influenza virus in various birds at key stages during the flu season.

They found that the virus could easily exchange genetic material with other, less harmful viruses, at times and locations corresponding to bird migratory cycle. These included viruses carried by wild birds on intersecting migratory routes, and by farmed ducks in China and central Europe.

The research also revealed that migrating birds harbouring weaker viruses are more likely to survive their journey and potentially pass the disease to domestic birds.

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Tickets on sale for horse welfare conference

News Story 1
 Tickets are now on sale for the 'Welfare and Performance of the Ridden Horse' conference, due to take place at Nottingham University on Saturday, 11 December 2021.

World-renowned researchers, including Prof. Hilary Clayton and Dr Sue Dyson, will deliver the latest research updates. There will also be interactive Q&A sessions throughout the day, interactive polls and a fun evening of entertainment.

Organisers say that in the event of further coronavirus restrictions, day tickets will be transferred to livestream tickets. For more information about the conference and to book your place, click here.  

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News Shorts
More cases of African swine fever confirmed in Germany

More cases of African swine fever (ASF) have been confirmed in wild boar in Germany.

According to Pig World, 20 outbreaks have been identified in two districts - Brandenburg, where the original case confirmed on September 10 was found, and near the town of Neuzelle, some 7.5 km away.

The finding represents a further seven cases confirmed by Germany's Friedrich-Loeffler Institute. A Central Crisis Team has been established to coordinate the response to the outbreak.