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Stanford researchers study dynamics of workers at poultry farms and markets to track bird flu

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  • Stanford researchers study dynamics of workers at poultry farms and markets to track bird flu

    http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2013/aug...-flu-0819.html
    AUG. 19, 2013
    Researchers study dynamics of workers at poultry farms and markets to track bird flu
    Stanford Medicine School of Medicine News Inside Stanford Medicine
    BY RINA SHAIKH-LESKO


    Live poultry markets bring many animals and people together in one place, increasing the risk of flu strains spreading between them. The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza A has has been detected in birds in about 60 countries.

    When a new strain of bird flu surfaced in China in February, it was an ominous echo of the 1997 outbreak in Hong Kong. People connected to poultry markets were again falling ill as scientists raced to decipher a novel strain: Who gets sick from it? Who dies of it? How do they catch it?

    "What's happening in China is influenza doing what it does," said Stephen Luby, MD, professor of medicine and director of research at Stanford's Center for Innovation in Global Health. "Flu is a highly changeable virus. It behooves us to understand the evolution of these viruses and how they move into people."

    Today, he and several other Stanford researchers are part of team studying how the virus is transmitted between people. To do so, they are focusing on human social networks specifically, the dynamics among people who spend time on farms and in poultry markets using methods pioneered by James Holland Jones, PhD, associate professor of anthropology. Most models of contagion assume people in a group, like a town or a live-bird market, mix equally, but that's not usually the case. Most people only interact with a small group that they know. Some people, however, serve as bridges connecting otherwise separate subgroups. These bridges may be the best targets for medical interventions like vaccinations or antiviral treatment.

    Understanding how flu spreads in hot zones, among people who have frequent contact with birds, which are a regular source of new flu strains, could provide critical information about whom to target for treatment when the next pandemic strain emerges...
    “‘i love myself.’ the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

    Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)
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