Could Clams Be A Tool to Track Bird Flu?

By: Ray Hawthorne Email
By: Ray Hawthorne Email

Researchers at Colorado State University say clams could become a new tool for tracking the bird flu.

Bird flu not only kills birds but can spread to humans. Researchers at CSU say using clams to test for bird flu would be much cheaper than using man-made filters.

Kate Huyvaeret, a disease biologist at CSU, says bird flu is spread among birds when one infected bird's feces end up in water that other birds use. Huyvaeret says clams filter water and when they are in water that has bird flu, they can accumulate measurable traces of the virus in their tissue.

This summer, Huyvaeret plans to go to northern Vietnam where clams are common in markets, and where there have been outbreaks of bird flu. To test how well clams work as sentinels for bird flu, she will then have to wait for reports of an outbreak.

Huyvaeret wants to learn how long it takes for the clams to pick up measurable traces of bird flu. With that information, clams could make a type of test filter that could be taken to suspect areas, set in the water, and then tested to see if it's an area where bird flu has spread.

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