Scientists and experts are working together on strategies to tackle bird flu.

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

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

The UK is in the migratory flight path for wild birds flying across northern Europe, therefore outbreaks occur each year.

However, more than 100 cases of avian flu were confirmed across the country this year in what was one of the largest outbreaks the country has ever seen.

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It has had a huge impact on poultry health and the economy.

It is hoped that through collaboration and knowledge exchange, this new consortium will help to find strategies to control the spread of disease.

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.”

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.