Science 16 June 2006:
Vol. 312. no. 5780, p. 1597
Veterinary Virologists Share Avian Flu DataAvian influenza infections caused by viruses of the Asian HPAI H5N1 subtype have spread from East and Southeast Asia to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The virus is occurring in new ecosystems and infecting new hosts, resulting in novel host-pathogen interactions and genetic modifications. There is a lack of information on how the virus spreads across and within continents, including the role of wild birds. This hampers research into avian influenza, which is causing significant food security issues in developing countries, in addition to its pandemic potential.
Veterinary virologists have been working on avian influenza viruses for many years, and our collections of influenza virus isolates could be of great value to the international scientific community.
Within the Scientific Committee of OFFLU (the World Organization of Animal Health/United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Network of Expertise on Avian Influenza), we have initiated the FLU-ID project. We will make available for genome nucleotide sequencing H5N1 contemporary isolates from several countries and relevant historical strains. This will be achieved in collaboration with the NIH Influenza Genome Project, and the full genetic sequences will be available in GenBank.
The Asian HPAI H5N1 virus is spreading very quickly. Real-time availability of genetic information is now possible and is essential for timely monitoring of viral evolution. These data will increase our knowledge of this pathogen and will help the appropriate selection of viral candidates for experimental studies, thus avoiding duplication of efforts and waste of resources.
We firmly believe that knowledge of the genetic profile of avian influenza viruses from animals is a prerequisite to understanding a complex disease that has already killed hundreds of millions of birds worldwide and that is threatening human lives. We are convinced that this initiative will contribute substantially to the efforts that are being carried out worldwide, and we invite other medical and veterinary virologists to join us.
Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie
Viale dell'Universit` 10
35020 Legnaro, Padova, Italy
Veterinary Laboratories Agency-Weybridge
Addlestone, Surrey, UK
Australian Animal Health Laboratory
CSIRO Livestock Industries
Private Bag 24
Geelong 3220, Australia
National Veterinary Services Laboratories
Post Office Box 844
Ames, IA 50010, USA
Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory
934 College Station Road
Athens, GA 30605, USA
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