Date:July 14, 2016
Source:University of Lincoln
The genes of some chickens make them almost completely resistant to a serious strain of bird flu, new research has revealed.
The findings, which are published in the journal Scientific Reports, show that genetics play a key part in whether the birds are susceptible or resistant to the potentially deadly virus. Until now, scientists around the world have paid little attention to the role the genetics of birds play in the transmission of flu, focusing instead on how the virus itself evolves and infects.
Led by Dr Colin Butter from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, UK, this new research, which was carried out at The Pirbright Institute, could prove valuable in developing our understanding of the mechanisms of influenza transmission within and between birds. Dr Butter is one of the UK's leading authorities on avian flu with expertise in animal science, virology and immunology.
Influenza virus is the cause of influenza, or 'flu' -- the contagious respiratory viral disease common in many birds and mammals. The viruses circulating in wild birds and domesticated poultry are of particular interest to scientists because they may mutate into forms that are capable of infecting humans, and represent an emerging threat to human health as potential sources of the next flu pandemic.
This danger has led the World Health Organisation to highlight effective control measures, as well as an in-depth assessment of factors surrounding the infection of host animals, as part of their research priorities. Dr Butter's study takes an important step towards meeting these needs.