Breakthrough on Avian Influenza Research

Scientists are gaining greater understanding of disease.

Collaboration among many partners and several years worth of work has lead to a major milestone in avian influenza research according to David Swarez from USDA's Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga.

"In a nutshell the project we are working on is to try to sequence a total of 900 avian influenza viruses that we have in our research depository," Swarez says. "Viruses we've collected from wild birds, from poultry and other animals over the last 30 years in our laboratory."

Swarez says the release of complete genetic coding sequences for 150 different AI viruses earlier this year coupled with the ongoing research will allow a better understanding of how the viruses operate. This will help in development of improved diagnostic tests for strains of the bird flu.

"We certainly want to understand and correlate those differences between the genetics and what disease it causes and try to understand that better," Swarez says. "So it gives us a better ability to predict which viruses are going to be more dangerous to poultry in the U.S."

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