Some chickens genetically immune to bird flu

If your clients with backyard chickens are concerned about the spread of avian influenza to their flocks, their chickens’ genetics may play a role in the likelihood of that, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom found that genetics play a key part in whether birds are susceptible or resistant to avian flu. The study was published June 9 in Scientific Reports.

The researchers found that birds that carried the virus but were genetically resistant to the disease only shed the virus through their respiratory tract and for a limited period of time. Birds that were susceptible to the disease also shed virus in feces and over a longer time.

The researchers discovered that this was the only relevant means of spreading the virus and that resistant birds were therefore completely unable to initiate or sustain a chain of infection.

Further results in the study suggest that this could be due to a genetic restriction within the animal that stops the virus spreading when inside the body.

Photo credit: © iStock/Andrei Trentea

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