As a result of rapidly changing dynamics, AI continues to cause unexpected and devastating outbreaks in poultry in the EU, as well as world-wide. Its potential to become pandemic is also of great concern to public health. The key viral, host-related, and environmental factors that drive AI dynamics are poorly understood, which currently impedes the development of effective control and prevention strategies. As the problems caused by AI require global solutions, DELTA-FLU is a consortium with top-level experts from Europe, North America, and Asia. Through interdisciplinary research focused on key questions of AI, DELTA-FLU will determine
- potential for some highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV, e.g. H5N8 clade 220.127.116.11) to be maintained in wild bird populations and spread over long-distances,
- key viral, host, and environmental factors both at regional and local levels, for incursion of AIV from wild birds into poultry holdings,
- roles of viral, host, and environmental factors in the transition of low pathogenic avian influenza virus to HPAIV in poultry,
- Role of the innate and adaptive immunity for AIV and effect of flock immunity against AIV on early detection and genetic drift,
- viral genetic factors that allow reassortants of avian and mammalian influenza viruses to transmit efficiently among pigs.
The results of these studies will increase our understanding of the biological interplay between virus, host, and environment. This knowledge can be used to improve prevention and control strategies, and so increase the health and profitability of the poultry sector in a sustainable way.