Pirbright helps tackle avian flu with other UK experts

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Pirbright researchers are set to join forces with some of the UK’s top experts in avian influenza in a new research consortium dedicated to tackling bird flu.

This consortium has received £1.5 million from the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and is responsible for developing new strategies to tackle bird flu outbreaks.

The UK is in the migratory flight path for wild birds flying across northern Europe, therefore outbreaks occur each year. However, this year has seen some of the largest outbreaks the UK has ever experienced which has had a huge impact on poultry health and the economy.

It is hoped that through collaboration and knowledge exchange, this consortium will help to find strategies to control the spread of disease. This will subsequently boost the UK poultry industry and rural economy, which have suffered during recent outbreaks and lockdowns of poultry flocks.

The key aims of the consortium include:
  • Monitoring current flu virus strains
  • Understanding spread of disease in different bird populations
  • Developing models to predict how the avian influenza virus may spread
  • Informing strategies to decrease risk of disease and transmission to people.

Professor Munir Iqbal, Head of Pirbright’s Avian Influenza Virus group, said: “The expertise of Pirbright’s researchers will help to achieve the key aims of this consortium and as an Institute we are extremely proud to be part of this. Avian influenza is an economically important virus that has devastating effects on the poultry industry, therefore improved understanding of the virus will give us more insight into how it spreads and inform our control strategies to prevent it from spreading to people and other animals.”
Source: The Pirbright Institute