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How it Moves

A new program called FluMap in the UK aims to uncover how H5N1 influenza spreads from wild to domesticated birds, New Scientist reports.

A consortium of eight scientific organizations has received £1.5 million (US $1.8 million) in funding from the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council and other governmental agencies to develop ways to uncover and prevent bird flu outbreaks. The group is to in particular focus on why recent viral strains seem better able to support longer outbreaks, how transmission across bird populations and species occurs, and how to mitigate outbreaks.

New Scientist notes that 122 cases among poultry were reported in the UK during the winter, more than the previous year's 26, and that more than 1,100 cases have been identified in wild birds, up from the previous year's 300 cases.

"The jump into wild birds has been the game changer, because that's really made it a transcontinental problem. It's the equivalent of a pandemic in birds. It will have an impact on food security and there are concerns around public health," Ian Brown from the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency tells it.

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