Public talks can be private affairs. In sharing our work we bare the triumphs and limits of a thinking born in long hours alone or with a few fellow conspirators sworn to secrecy. But in breaking our oaths we are able to take the next step.
In talking bird flu twice this past month I learned something new.
Much of the talk was dedicated to describing the role industrial poultry played in the evolution and diversification of highly pathogenic influenza, including H5N1, bird flu’s marquee star. The evidence is presently circumstantial, but for me offers a convincing working hypothesis:
- A phylogenetic burst of influenzas capable of infecting humans coincided with the globalization of the industrial model of poultry: H5N1, H7N1, H7N3, H7N7, H9N2, in all likelihood H5N2 and perhaps some of the H6 serotypes.
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