A rooster is seen at a chicken shop in
the southern Indian city of Bangalore August 14, 2006.(Xinhua/Reuters
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The international
science community is not doing enough to track many avian influenza viruses that
might cause the next pandemic, an expert from University of California, Davis,
said in Dec. 6 issue of the journal Nature.
Global surveillance is critical for identifying and
tracking potential pandemic viruses such as highly pathogenic H5N1. But the
current surveillance strategy in wild birds is piecemeal and risks missing
important virus sources or subtypes, Walter Boyce writes in a commentary
entitled "Vigilance is not enough."
Boyce, a UC Davis professor of veterinary medicine,
is co-director of the Center for Rapid Influenza Surveillance and Research,
which is charged with tracking viruses in wild birds in the United States and
Addressing journal Nature's worldwide audience, Boyce
said scientists must take several steps to catch avian influenza viruses "before
they catch us."
He said surveillance has focused too heavily on
Europe and North America, where few wild birds are infected. To really
understand the role of wild birds in spreading H5N1, more surveillance should be
done in places where the virus is endemic, such as Asia and Africa.
Currently, he said, the narrow focus on H5N1 misses
other viruses that also pose pandemic risks. He advised that all of the
influenza viruses collected be characterized.
He noted that whether caused by regulatory hurdles or
researchers' concerns about intellectual property rights, a reluctance to share
samples hampers health officials' ability to track and respond to potential
He recommended that the scientific community set a
standard of releasing data no more than 45 days after it is generated.