New research has revealed that some avian flu viruses can survive in water for up to 150 days.
“The environmental spread of avian flu between birds is quite rare, but our model shows that it can play an important role in outbreaks,” said lead author Pejman Rohani, professor at University Of Georgia Odum School of Ecology.
Current models of avian flu only take into account the direct transmission of the virus that occurs when infected waterfowl shed the virus in their faeces and those nearby drink contaminated water.
But research at the university has revealed that some low-pathogenic avian flu viruses can persist in water for up to 150 days. So even when no infected birds are present, virus present in the water can trigger an outbreak.
“Models that only take into account direct transmission,” said Prof Rohani, “would incorrectly conclude that there’s no risk of an outbreak when no infected birds are present.”