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The next pandemic? It's already here for Earth's wildlife.

The highly pathogenic strain of avian #influenza #H5N1 (#birdflu) has killed millions of birds & unknown numbers of mammals, particularly during the past 3 years.


This is the strain that emerged in domestic geese in China in 1997 and quickly jumped to humans in south-east Asia with a mortality rate of around 40-50%. My research group encountered the virus when it killed a mammal, an endangered Owston's palm civet, in a captive breeding program in Cuc Phuong National Park Vietnam in 2005.


How these animals caught bird flu was never confirmed. Their diet is mainly earthworms, so they had not been infected by eating diseased poultry like many captive tigers in the region.


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