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Epidemics. 2009 Dec;1(4):240-9. doi: 10.1016/j.epidem.2009.11.003. Epub 2009 Nov 26.

A prototype forecasting system for bird-borne disease spread in North America based on migratory bird movements.

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Biodiversity Institute, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


The past two decades have seen major outbreaks of influenza viruses and flaviviruses that are spread at least in part by migratory birds. Although much new information has accumulated on the natural history of the viruses, and on the geography of migration by individual bird species, no synthesis has been achieved regarding likely patterns of spread of such pathogens by migratory birds, which constitutes a large-scale challenge in understanding the geography of bird migration. We here present a first step in this direction: a summary of seasonal (breeding, wintering) distributions of all 392 North American bird species that show marked seasonal migratory movements and that meet a series of conditions for inclusion in our analyses. We use species-level interseasonal connectivity among distributional areas to make initial forecasts of patterns of spread of bird-borne diseases via bird migration. We identify key next steps towards improved forecasting of spread patterns of bird-borne pathogens in North America, which will require substantial improvements in knowledge of the geography of bird migration.

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