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Bird flu: "when certain types spread to domestic poultry serious disease can be seen"

Andrew Easton, Professor of Virology at the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences, has commented on the outbreak of bird flu at a Yorkshire duck farm.

Professor Easton's comment:

We do not yet know what strain of avian flu has been detected though H5N1 that carries risks to humans seems to have been ruled out. Aquatic birds such as ducks can harbour over 100 (in fact 144 ) different types of influenza. In these birds the viruses do not usually cause disease but when certain types spread to domestic poultry such as chickens serious disease can be seen.

It is the types that cause serious disease that are of particular concern. Human infections with flu strains that infect birds are not common and have been restricted to only a very small number so the risk to humans from this incident is likely to be very small or non-existent. However, the risk to the poultry industry is high and the current measures require that infected birds are killed as quickly as possible to stop spread to other flocks.

There is always concern that some strains of flu may be spread by wild birds and surveillance measures are also likely to be introduced in surrounding areas to check for the possibility of spread.

To speak with Professor Easton please contact:

Tom Frew - International Press Officer, University of Warwick;

a dot t dot frew at warwick dot ac dot uk

+44 (0) 2476575910

Professor Andrew Easton -

A dot J dot Easton at warwick dot ac dot uk